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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

English-Label Drink Sales Halted

Russian consumers befuddled by shelves loaded with German "Fruchtsaftgetr?nk," Czech "Sok Wieloo-wocowy" and Finnish "Apelsiini-T?ysmehu" now have one less thing to worry about: Authorities have decided to defend them from Tampico "Orange Drink."


The suburban Moscow factory that makes the drink from imported concentrate has been forced to suspend sales of Tampico because its carton is labeled entirely in English, a Moscow region official said.


Russian food producers are required by law to print ingredients, nutritional information, expiration dates and other information in Russian on all packages, said Taisiya Tkachyova, who is in charge of consumer protection for the region.


"The information must be accessible in Russian so that the consumer can decide what he wants and what he doesn't want," Tkachyova said Thursday.


Why single out Tampico when on every corner Russians are buying packets of instant noodles embossed with Chinese characters, French-labeled Coca-Cola and Danish cheeses packaged for export to Arab countries -- all without a word of Russian in sight?


For imported goods, there are different rules, Tkachyova said. It is acceptable if they are labelled in foreign languages, as long as every store and kiosk that sells them can produce on demand a Russian government certificate that attests to their quality and explains their contents and use in Russian. This rule is violated more often than not.


Like Tampico, many homegrown companies often use Latin lettering to evoke Western prestige in everything from television commercials for stocks in the automobile company AVVA to the sign outside the Georgian restaurant U Pirosmani to the labels on bottles of Priviet vodka. Officials say product names can be in whatever language the producer chooses, as long as the information is provided in Russian. Still, the very existence of foreign-language labels irritates many Muscovites.


"It is such a lack of respect," said Zhanna Serkisyan, an official in Moscow's consumer market department, of the prevalence of foreign-language-labeled goods for sale in the capital.


Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov was one of the first to jump into the fray with an April 1993 decree ordering that all street advertisements and store names written in foreign languages include Russian translations.


Moscow's central Tverskaya Ulitsa remains laden with advertisements in Latin lettering for everything from Panasonic electronics to Coca-Cola.


City officials say trademarked company names need not be translated, but companies should make clear what they are selling, as does the Reebok store on the Garden Ring. Its sign in Cyrillic announces the sale of "Sporting Goods."


Tatyana Ivsheyeva, acting director of the milk factory that produces Tampico, said she has already ordered new Russian-language cartons. They are due any day now from California.