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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kiev Mulls Banning McDonald's Beef

Ukraine is likely to ban beef imports from fast-food giant McDonald's Russian meat-processing plant next week over fears of mad cow and foot-and-mouth disease, a spokeswoman for the Ukrainian Agriculture Ministry said Wednesday.

The spokeswoman, Natalya Chereshevskaya, said in a telephone interview from Kiev that the ministry recently inspected the McDonald's plant, located in Novoperedelkino on the southwest outskirts of Moscow, and determined that it processed meat from Belgium and the Netherlands — two countries on its "suspect beef" list.

Oleg Strekal, head of public relations for McDonald's Ukraine, said he had heard nothing of the ban. Ukrainian officials visited the plant and gave it a clean bill of health, he said.

He declined to comment on the consequences of any ban, but said that McDonald's Ukraine had its own processing facilities that may be used at some stage to process the 70 metric tons of beef the Moscow plant supplies to its Ukrainian restaurants each month.

The multinational, which has 65 restaurants in Russia and 45 in Ukraine, would not confirm or deny that such meat had been processed at the plant, saying in a statement only that "currently Australian, Ukrainian and Russian beef is used to produce beef products for Ukraine."

"McDonald's highest priority is for the safety of our customers," the statement said, adding that McDonald's has a "solid" tracking system for its meat.

"We are favorable to any further sound safety measures to be taken by authorities in the interest of our customers," the company said.

McDonald's did not respond to questions regarding what consequences a ban would have on its business in Ukraine.

Chereshevskaya said Ukraine not only has a ban on meat from the Netherlands and Belgium, but also feared contamination of meat from other countries by equipment that had been in contact with infected meat.

The proposed ban is not aimed specifically at McDonald's — it will cover all products that could have been infected by meat from the Netherlands and Belgium, whose meat exports are not banned in Russia, she said.

"What Russia imports is its business. We don't want to receive meat that might be risky," she said.

Chereshevskaya confirmed that neither Russia nor Ukraine had any cases of mad cow disease or recent foot-and-mouth cases.

A spokeswoman for the Russian Agriculture Ministry said in a telephone interview that a ban on meat products from the Netherlands and Belgium instituted March 26 was lifted June 1.

Chereshevskaya said the ban would be in accordance with a statement by the Paris-based World Organization for Animal Health, or OIE.

"As soon as they lift the ban on re-exports from those countries, then we will lift our ban," she said

Belgium has recorded 15 cases of mad cow disease this year, but no cases of foot-and-mouth, while the Netherlands has had seven cases of mad cow and its status as free of foot-and-mouth has been suspended because of a recent outbreak, the OIE said on its web site,