Russia has banned Chobani yogurt during the Winter Olympics in Sochi. A shipment meant for the United States Olympic team was blocked from entering the county by the Russian government. Officials said the shipment lacked the proper permits and certification required for imported food. Although the reasoning sounds straightforward, the athletes and United States government officials are outraged.
US Senator Charles E. Schumer was stunned that the shipment was blocked. He said “there is simply no time to waste in getting out Olympic athletes a nutritious and delicious food.” As the yogurt is high in protein, and has no preservatives, it was named the official yogurt of the US Olympic team. Unfortunately, the yogurt may not reach its destination.
In appreciation of the designation, Chobani pledged to send the athletes numerous single-serving cups of their blueberry, peach, and strawberry yogurt. They also included numerous tubs the larger sized plain yogurt, which can be used to make other healthy snacks.
As reported by New York Times, the yogurt shipment is now waiting in a warehouse near the Newark Liberty International Airport. Although the product is being kept in a refrigerated facility, it may end up going to waste.
US officials said the shipment will remain in the warehouse until Russia OKs the Chobani yogurt shipment. The decision rests on the shoulders of Russia’s Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance, which oversees the import of food products.
Chobani issued an official statement about the blocked shipment. While they thanked Senator Schumer, they admonished Russia for banning the product:
“This is a time when the focus should be on our athletes,” the company said, “so we’re just trying to do right by them in getting food they enjoy from home.”
Schumer took his plea to Russian ambassador Sergey I. Kislyak. However, he has not received a reply. The US Department of Agriculture is also working with Russian officials to find a solution.
Although it is unclear why the permits and certification were refused, Schumer’s letter to the ambassador implies Russian officials were concerned about food safety standards. In his letter, Schumer assures Kislyak that the “US government has confirmed that sanitary standards have been met to ensure that this yogurt will be safe for consumption by American Citizens attending and participating in the 2014 Winter Olympics.”
Despite pleas from US government officials, Russia’s Chobani yogurt ban has not been lifted. As the Olympics are set to begin, athletes and officials are hoping the shipment will continue as planned.