Russia closes 4 McDonald's branches amid sanitation worries

Russia closed four McDonald's restaurant in Moscow on Wednesday, including the fast food chain’s flagship branch, for alleged breaches of sanitary regulations, in a move rumoured to be a backlash for US and EU sanctions against the country.

More branches may be subjected to closures

The closures, led by watchdog Rospotrebnadzor, are thought to be connected to high tensions between Russia and the west, after the country’s invasion of Crimea in March.

Among the closed branches was the iconic Pushkin Square McDonald's, which opened before the fall of the Soviet Union in late 1991.

The fast food chain, which has 630 fast food eateries in Russia, will be on the receiving end of microbiology tests, sanitary and chemical tests, and identification indicators, as the watchdog probes the cleanliness of McDonald's in the region.

In response to the closures, a McDonald's spokesperson said: “Based on a claim from a federal consumer agency, on Aug 20 2014, three McDonald’s restaurants on Pushkin Square, Manezh Square and Prospect Mira were temporary closed.

“We are closely studying the subject of the documents to define what should be done to re-open the restaurants as soon as possible. Our main priority is to serve our customers with top quality menu items.”

The statement added: “We will continue taking care of our employees and will do our best to continue the success of McDonald’s business in Russia.”

Steve Rosenberg, BBC Moscow correspondent, said: “The suspicion is that because McDonald's is one of the symbols of America, that's why it's encountering problems now.

“It does seem, if not the public, then the people in power, are losing their appetite for American fast food.”

Russian MPs are reportedly also calling for inspections into additional US brands including KFC and Burger King.

This came as McDonald's on announced its intention to expand its digital enterprise with food-ordering mobile apps and music-entertainment drives, to increase football at stores.

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