Despite all their attempts at “cheese elimination,” Russia still has an illegal cheese problem. Police in the country recently broke up a $30 million cheese ring that was producing illegal cheeses right on Russian soil.
All these dairy-based problems stem from a ban Russian officials placed on Western foods as retaliation for US and European Union sanctions. To help enforce the ban, President Vladimir Putin called for the destruction of all illegal imports, resulting in what was being dubbed by the media as “fromagicide.” However, this new cheese ring had their own unique spin: not smuggling in cheeses, but producing cheese in Russia using illegally imported rennet—an enzyme used in cheesemaking.
In one additional dastardly step, the illegal cheese producers then put counterfeit labels on the cheese, stating they were from well-known brands from around the world before selling them to stores. According to the Associated Press, during a raid, police “found 470 tons of the rennet product, equipment for making the counterfeit labels and documents confirming the illegal activity.”
One question left unanswered is why these illegal cheesemakers thought it was a good idea to put illegal labels on these products when the cheese was illegal to make in the first place. Why not just say it’s from your own awesome Russian cheese company that makes the best Russian cheese ever? Though I guess if you’re the kind of criminal who leaves documents confirming your illegal activities just lying around for the police to find, you don’t think things through particularly well.