Schumer presses Russia to 'get past nyet’ on accepting Olympics yogurt shipment

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Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is pressing the Russian government to approve nearly 5,000 containers of yogurt for U.S. Winter Olympics athletes during the Games, which start Friday. 

The country has barred a shipment of Chobani-brand yogurt without increased customs certification. Schumer is pressing the Russian ambassador, saying the requirements are “very specific and unattainable.”

He said the U.S. Department of Agriculture has ensured the safety of the yogurt and said it is only meant for U.S. athletes. 

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“Chobani Yogurt is safe, nutritious and delicious and the Russian Authorities should get past ‘nyet’ and let this prime sponsor of the US Olympic Team deliver their protein-packed food to our athletes,” Schumer said in a statement. 

The USDA has sent the Russian government a sanitary certificate, which would allow a one-time transfer of the yogurt for consumption by U.S. citizens. 

Schumer said in a letter to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak that he understands food safety standards, but the U.S. has already approved it. 

“As the world looks forward to a successful 2014 Winter Olympics, I urge your country’s immediate approval of the entry of this shipment of Chobani Greek yogurt,” Schumer said in the letter.    

The 5,000 packages of yogurt are currently holding in the Newark International Airport and will soon go to waste without approval, Schumer said. 

“At a time when the focus should be on our athletes, this seems to be a bureaucratic issue and we appreciate the support and efforts to do right by our athletes,” Chobani said in a statement. 

Schumer has been a longtime advocate for the New York-based company. He had pressed the Obama administration to add Greek yogurt to school lunch menus last year, and his state was one of four picked to lead a pilot program to add the food to school lunches.