Hot on the heels of accusations that McDonald's was misleading customers about the nutritional value of its products, Russia's food safety watchdog on Monday said it has opened an investigation into the cheese used by the chain.
The Federal Veterinary and Phytosanitary Control Service "has intensified monitoring of residual amounts of tetracycline antibiotics in cheese supplied to Russia, including McDonald's in Russia," the agency's head, Sergei Dankvert, told Itar-Tass.
Most of the cheese used by McDonald's in Russia comes from German and Czech suppliers, he said.
Food import restrictions have become the retaliatory measure of choice for the Russia in the face of Western sanctions over its alleged involvement in the Ukraine conflict. It has also used them against former Soviet republics that have sought closer ties with the European Union.
Last week, Moscow said it was banning all Ukrainian dairy and dairy-containing imports starting Monday, citing health concerns.
The latest investigation should take two to three weeks to complete, Dankvert said.
McDonald's came under fire on Friday, when the Federal Consumer Protection Service said it had "identified violations that put the product quality and safety of the entire McDonald's chain in doubt," Interfax reported.
A Moscow court said the regulator asked it to outlaw the production and sale of certain McDonald's products following an inspection last June, Reuters reported.
The consumer rights agency said the energy values of the chain's Royal Cheeseburgers, Filet-o-Fish, Cheeseburgers and Chicken Burgers were inaccurate, as were the nutritional values of its milkshakes and ice creams. The agency also said it found coliform bacteria in Caesar wrap sandwiches and salads.
A court hearing is scheduled for Aug. 13, though McDonald's told Reuters on Friday that it has received no official notice from the consumer watchdog and was unaware of an impending lawsuit.