MOSCOW—Russian authorities are conducting “systematic” inspections at French supermarket chain Auchan following concerns about poor-quality meat, a top consumer rights official said Wednesday.
The inspections come at a time of tension between France and Russia over the extension of European Union sanctions and France’s decision to cancel a deal to provide warships to Russia.
Inspections are underway across all of Auchan’s stores in Moscow with the support of prosecutors, said Anna Popova, head of the state consumer protection agency Rospotrebnadzor, in comments reported by Russian media.
“Since the middle of June, a systematic, complete, planned inspection of all shops from the Auchan chain in Moscow is underway,” Popova said.
The company’s website says it has 19 outlets in Moscow with several more in surrounding areas.
No reasons for the inspections were reported on Wednesday, but the move follows allegations by another Russian government agency, Rosselkhoznadzor, that Auchan’s pork products had been found to contain DNA from cows, chickens and horses. The company was also accused of prolonging expiry dates on meat products.
Auchan’s office in Moscow declined to comment on the latest inspections. Last week, the French Embassy denied it had expressed “concern” over Rosselkhodnadzor’s allegations, but said it had contacted the agency “for clarification on technical issues within the bounds of working contacts.”
Last year, during tensions with the U.S. over the Ukraine crisis, McDonald’s restaurants in Russia were subject to a range of inspections, with food safety concerns cited, and the company’s flagship restaurant in Moscow was temporarily closed.
Rospotrebnadzor has often been accused of using its powers to block imports of food products for political purposes, with items from countries such as Georgia and Ukraine previously blocked at times of political tension.