Why Are Authorities Across Russia Mass Destroying Piles of Perfectly Good Food?

Starting from today, Russia will be mass destroying any food products that have been imported from Western countries that imposed sanctions on Russia. This conflict can be traced back to last year, when a collection of Western countries imposed sanctions on Russia following its annexation of Crimea. As a response, Russia announced a ban on all foods imported from the countries involved in the sanctions.

Russia stepped up its battle when Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on July 30th that allows the mass destruction of any food that breaches the ban. This decree was to come into effect on August 6th. “[A]gricultural goods, raw materials and food originating from a country that has made the decision to introduce economic sanctions against Russian entities and/or individuals, or has joined such a decision, and which are prohibited from being imported into the Russian Federation … are subject to destruction,” said a report in the Moscow Times.


According to the decree, the food has to be destroyed in front of witness, along with photographic or video evidence that is has in fact been destroyed. Some reports indicate that the process has already begun; the Guardian states that Yulia Melano, the spokesperson for the Russian food standards has revealed that 114kg of pork from Brazil has been seized and ground to make livestock feed.

This video shows custom officials inspecting contraband pork.


Meanwhile, a petition on Change.org has been started challenging the ban. “Why should we destroy food we could use to feed war veterans, pensioners, the disabled, families with many children, or people who suffered in natural disasters?”, the petition asks. It has now been signed by over 170,000 people.

Which countries are affected by the ban?

The ban has impacted both the Russian population as well as the Western countries; while Russian consumers are unable to buy any imported cheese or meats and the food prices in Russia have rose by over 20%, the EU estimates that the sanctions are costing exporters $5.4 billion a year.

This helpful map from Russia Beyond The Headlines helps one better understand the widespread impact of the ban.


Despite the amount of individuals and countries that the ban has impacted, there seems to be no end in sight. Indeed, at the same time that he signed the decree auhtorising the food destruction, Putin also extended the sanctions for a year.