Russia has relaxed its food ban against the European Union by clarifying that it will allow imports of salmon and trout hatchlings, potato and onion seed, sugar maize hybrid and peas for planting, lactose-free milk, flavor additives, and food fibers. The move follows criticism from within the country on the effects the import prohibitions would have on Russians, and according to the Moscow Times, it will also ease the bans’ burden on neighboring Finland. To soften the effects on the markets for fruits and vegetables for the rest of Europe, the European Union has set aside €125 million to compensate producers for keeping several of their perishable products off the market to avoid a price collapse. Further information on Russia’s food bans appears in Issue 533 of this Update. See CNN, August 18, 2014, and Moscow Times, August 21, 2014.
Within Russia, consumer protection agency Rospotrebnadzor has introduced fines—between 20,000 and 150,000 rubles, or $555 to $4,150—for violations of the genetically modified (GM) food labeling law. RT also reported that several Russian lawmakers seek a ban on GM ingredients in Russian-produced foodstuffs. In addition, Rospotrebnadzor has closed four McDonald’s locations for alleged sanitary violations. The agency reportedly filed a lawsuit in July 2014 to enjoin McDonald’s from making some of its most popular menu items because the company supposedly misrepresented nutritional information for its hamburgers and milkshakes, and in addition, two of the restaurant’s locations allegedly showed signs of E. coli contamination. The four closings reportedly followed tests of McDonald’s raw materials and food items. Additional information on Rospotrebnadzor’s lawsuit against McDonald’s appears in Issue 532 of this Update. See RT, August 19, 2014, and Law360, August 20, 2014.