Could Russia say "nyet" to McDonald's?

Employees serve clients in a McDonald's restaurant on Pushkin square in Moscow. File photo. ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images

It's been an interesting couple of weeks for McDonald's (MCD). There's been a growing scandal involving one of the company's meat suppliers, that's affecting many of its East Asian operations. And the fast food giant is also being buffeted by Wall Street, following the disappointing results of its latest quarterly report.

And now, as if to add insult to injury, McDonald's is coming under renewed fire in Russia.

The Russian news agency RIA Novosti says McDonald's may be banned from serving some of its signature foods in Russia, if a lawsuit by the nation's consumer rights watchdog organization is successful.

That group, Rospotrebnadzor, says the restaurant chain's products contain more fat, protein and carbohydrates than allowed by Russia's "technological norms."

A court official in Moscow's administrative district told RIA that the foods at issue are McDonald's "cheeseburgers, Royal Cheeseburgers, Filet-o-Fish sandwiches, Chicken Burgers, as well as milkshakes and ice cream with fruit toppings."

A preliminary court date on the issue is expected some time next month.

Reuters, meanwhile, quoted a statement by McDonald's saying the company had not received any complaint from Rospotrebnadzor and had no information about the lawsuit. It added that food at McDonald's was produced according to Russian official standards.

McDonald's has been in Russia since 1990, when it opened it first outlet in Moscow following the fall of the Soviet Union, and has a growing consumer base there, with over 400 outlets nationwide. According to the company's 2013 annual report, Russia is also one of the company's top seven major markets outside of the U.S. and Canada.

And earlier this month, the ITAR-TASS news agency reported that McDonald's national development director for Russia said the company was planning to open another 70 restaurants in 30 Russian cities by the end of 2014.

But the Golden Arches has also found itself entangled in the ongoing political crisis between Russia and Ukraine. In April, McDonald's announced it was closing all of its outlets in Crimea, following Russia's occupation and annexation of the peninsula.

At the time, McDonald's said its decision to close its Crimean outlets had "nothing to do with politics," and was due to the suspension of financial and banking services in the region. But a well-known Moscow politician was quoted by France24 at the time as saying he would welcome the shuttering of all McDonald's restaurants in Russia.

  • Bruce Kennedy

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