Moscow, Russia – On Friday, Russian officials continued with the mass destruction of hundreds of tons of fresh fruit that they say was smuggled into the country.
The controversial drive to eradicate the smuggled Western food is a continuation of the government order by President Vladimir Putin.
The order to destroy the fruit, which began Thursday, has sparked an outburst of public ire as more than 300,000 people signed a petition asking officials to give the food to the poor.
Putin ordered the destruction of food brought into the country that was in breach of a year-old embargo imposed in retaliation for Western sanctions of the Ukraine conflict. Russian officials say that some importers are circumventing the ban by illegally labeling boxes with claims that the food was produced in neighboring ex-Soviet countries.
Russia’s food safety agency confirmed it has destroyed about 180 tons of fruit including nectarine, peaches, grapes and cherries that crossed the border from Belarus and “falsely” marked as arriving from Turkey.
In a separate statement, they confirmed that another 40 tons of fruit was seized and destroyed at a landfill site near the border. So far, approximately 319 tons of food has been intentionally destroyed, including meat from Italy, which was burned in an incinerator at Saint Petersburg.
Last year, Moscow banned numerous Western food products including Parmesan cheese, pate, ham and fruit. Food brought into to the country for personal consumption is still permitted.