New York, NY - February 4, 2014 - Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer called on the Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and the head of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach, to permit a significant amount of Chobani Greek Yogurt to enter Sochi so that the Olympic athletes can eat this protein-rich, New York-made food. Chobani is an Official Sponsor of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams, and has long planned on providing Greek Yogurt for Olympic athletes. However, the Russian government is not permitting the yogurt to enter the country without very specific and unattainable Customs certifications, even though the food will only be provided to U.S. citizens. In addition, Schumer noted that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has already stepped up to the plate and has requested the approval of a USDA sanitary certificate, which ensures on behalf of the agency the safety of yogurt but still the Russian government has not heeded the U.S. government’s call for entry. Schumer said that the yogurt is currently safely stored in a temperature controlled facility near Newark International Airport, and without this approval, the food will go to waste, the Olympic athletes will not have this nutritious food available to them, and a New York company will miss out on an important marketing opportunity in support of America’s Olympians.
“With the Sochi Olympic Games starting at the end of this week, there is simply no time to waste in getting our Olympic athletes a nutritious and delicious food – Chobani Greek Yogurt,” said Senator Schumer. “Unfortunately, this protein-packed, New York-made food has met a serious roadblock in the Russian Government, thanks to an unreasonable customs certificate, and they will not allow the yogurt into the country. Not only is this nutritious food only intended for U.S. citizens, but our own food safety experts, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is willing to back the food’s contents, so there is no acceptable holdup in getting this food to our athletes and ensuring that Chobani does not miss out on a critical investment.”
“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,” said Schumer.
Chobani issued a statement in support of Schumer’s efforts: “We appreciate Senator Charles Schumer’s support of Team USA by helping us to deliver cups of nutritious, delicious Chobani Greek Yogurt to Sochi to naturally power our athletes to the finish line—something we’ve long planned to do. Right now, 5,000 single-serve cups of blueberry, strawberry and peach Chobani, and multi-serve containers of plain Chobani yogurt for smoothies, are in a temperature-controlled facility, waiting for the final go-ahead from Russian authorities to be immediately transported. 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.
Supporting our Olympians is one of our greatest honors. Not only is Chobani a proud sponsor of U.S. Olympians and Paralympians – we’re also an authentic part of their training regimens and honored to be found inside their fridges. We were a proud sponsor of the Summer Olympics in 2012 and are equally proud that our winter athletes have been training with Chobani for the past year. As the official yogurt of the 2014 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Teams, chefs and nutritionists have served Chobani to the athletes in the U.S. Olympic Training Centers over the past several months.
Chobani’s commitment to Team USA is a recognition of these athletes’ dedication to doing things the right way and never cutting corners – just as we’re committed to perfectly crafting every cup of Chobani.”
Chobani is an official sponsor of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams, but is still having a great deal of trouble getting its product into Sochi, Russia, for the Olympics. Schumer said that while Chobani has made every effort to comply with Russian government requirements, the certificate and thus the yogurt delivery for Olympic athletes and workers is caught in a bureaucratic web, which Schumer is calling on the Russian Ambassador and head of the IOC to immediately resolve. Chobani has US Athlete product at Newark Airport, which was intended to be shipped to Sochi over the weekend. Schumer explained that Chobani has completed all paperwork but the Russian government has yet to agree to accept a certification from USDA that the product meets food safety standards.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has recently gotten involved with the Russian government on behalf of Chobani, and has sent the Russian government a letter urging the approval of the food safety certificate. Schumer is calling on the Russians to very quickly accept the USDA’s petition, particularly given that the Games begin on Friday. Specifically, the USDA has contacted the Russian Federation’s Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance to seek permission for Chobani to be able to supply a one-time, non-commercial shipment of yogurt to Russia using an AMS sanitary certificate for export. The AMS sanitary certificate would allow a one-time delivery of the non-commercial Chobani yogurt shipment, and Schumer is urging that the Russian government accept such a certificate for consumption by American citizens only.
A copy of Senator Schumer’s letter to the Russian Ambassador and the head of the International Olympic Committee appears below:
Dear Ambassador Sergey Kislyak:
I write today to bring to your attention an urgent issue that has resulted in the shipment of Chobani Greek yogurt for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games being withheld entry to the Russian Federation. As the United States and its Olympic athletes prepare for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games which commence later this week, the Russian Federation should accept the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s AMS sanitary certificate for a one-time non-commercial shipment of Chobani Greek yogurt to U.S. athletes.
As you know, the USDA has sent a letter to the Russian Federation’s Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance (Rosselkhoznadzor) requesting permission for Chobani to be able to supply U.S. athletes during the games. The USDA is seeking the approval of an AMS sanitary certificate for export to the Russian Federation, which would be only for a one-time shipment of Greek yogurt and solely for the consumption of U.S. citizens during the 2014 Olympic Games.
I understand the need for high food safety standards for dairy products. However, the U.S. 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. 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.
Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter.
Charles E. Schumer