MOSCOW — Russian news agencies reported Thursday that the country's food safety agency will conduct checks on McDonald's restaurants in the Urals following food safety complaints, a day after four branches of the chain were shuttered in Moscow.
Natalya Lukyantseva, an official in the Sverdlovsk regional office of the agency, told RIA Novosti and Interfax that unplanned checks were being carried out in a number of restaurants after residents voiced safety concerns. The inspections come one day after the agency, known in Russian as Rospotrebnadzor, ordered four Moscow-based restaurants to suspend operations, citing "numerous" sanitary law breaches.
One of those restaurants, on Moscow's central Pushkin Square, was the first to open in the Soviet Union in 1990, drawing crowds of thousands that circled around the block. The restaurant became a symbol of domestic reform and openness with the West, and today it is one of the company's most visited venues in Russia.
The shutdown comes in the wake of rising tensions between Russia and the West. After the U.S. and the European Union slapped sanctions on a range of Russian banks and crucial industries last month, Russia responded with a wide-ranging ban on food products imported from those regions.
McDonald's could not be immediately reached for comment about the checks in the Sverdlovsk region, but a statement posted on the Russian version of its website Wednesday said the company was doing "all it can for a speedy opening" of the four Moscow restaurants.