Acting on the orders of President Vladimir Putin, Russian officials destroyed hundreds of tons of banned Western foodstuffs on Thursday, including piles of cheese, pork and peaches, The New York Times reports.

According to the Times, the imported foods were outlawed last year in retaliation for Western sanctions over Russian intervention in Ukraine, but a presidential decree ordering their destruction only went into effect today. From Business Insider:

Russian TV showed a small mountain of illegally imported European cheese being bulldozed on Thursday while even before the official start, zealous workers threw boxes of European bacon into an incinerator.


“Any product without documents poses a security threat and should be destroyed,” said Andrei Panchenko, the head of agricultural watchdog in the Belgorod region, as workers threw the boxes of bacon into a stove.

The new policy has faced serious criticism in Russia, however, and over 280,000 people have signed a petition asking Putin to cancel the decree.

“Russian pensioners, veterans, families with many children, the disabled and other needy citizens are hurt as a result of these sanctions, and forced to restrict their diet up to starvation,” wrote petition creator Olga Savelieva, according to CNN. “If the food can simply be eaten, why destroy it?”

[Image via YouTube/ The Daily Dot]