A Russian consumer protection watchdog has threatened stores still stocking Jack Daniel's Tennessee Honey Whiskey with legal action after it claimed to have found benzyl benzoate — a chemical commonly used as an insect repellent – in the U.S.-made liquor.
Jack Daniels has been fighting allegations of quality violations since last week, when a branch of Russia's consumer protection agency, or Rospotrebnadzor, in the Ural mountain region of Sverdlovsk claimed to have found chemicals not characteristic to whiskey in its bottles.
On Thursday, the agency sharpened its accusations by issuing a statement on its website saying that lab tests have found benzyl benzoate in the liquor. The chemical, used to repel ticks and mosquitos, can incite allergic reactions and damage the central and peripheral nervous systems.
Russia has been accused of using allegations of sanitary violations as a pretext to crack down on products originating from countries out of favor with the Kremlin. As Moscow's confrontation with the West over Ukraine continues, McDonald's was forced by Russia's food safety watchdog to close three Moscow restaurants on Wednesday. The U.S. hamburger chain now faces unscheduled inspections at restaurants across the country.
The consumer protection agency also said that it will prosecute sellers of the tainted whiskey, having instructed the product to be removed from the shelves.
So far, these actions have only taken place at the regional level, and allegations of quality control violations against Jack Daniel's have yet to move beyond the Urals.
Rospotrebnadzor last week also took issue with the labeling of the standard Jack Daniel's whiskey, claiming that it did not conform with a Russian law to label all ingredients in Russian.
The owner of Jack Daniel's Distillery has contested the allegations of labeling errors and quality control violations.