Sen. Chuck Schumer intervenes in diplomatic yogurt dispute

Andrew Burton, Getty Images

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has found himself at the center of a diplomatic dispute between some of his constituents and a foreign government.

The two parties involved: Chobani Greek yogurt and Rosselkhoznadzor, the Russian Federation’s Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance.

According to Schumer’s office, the Greek yogurt maker – which has production facilities in upstate New York and is a sponsor of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams – has been trying to send yogurt to Sochi for the athletes and NBC News staff at the 2014 Olympic games, but the shipment is being blocked by the special government because it does not have customs certification the senator’s office calls “very specific and unattainable.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has requested that the government approve the shipment with the U.S.’s sanitary certificate, but since they have gotten no response, Schumer followed up with a letter to Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak and the head of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach, to intervene.

“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,” Schumer wrote.

Elaborating on the issue further in a press release, Schumer said, “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 and media workers,” continued Schumer.”

The yogurt is sitting at Newark International Airport, awaiting its fate – but there’s no word on whether New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J. – a local hero for his personalized attention to constituent’s problems -- will step in and save the day.

  • Rebecca Kaplan

    Rebecca Kaplan is a political reporter for