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Russia Blocks Yogurt Shipment to US Olympians

  • VOA News

FILE - Cups of Chobani Yogurt sit on the shelf at Chobani Greek Yogurt in South Edmeston, N.Y.

FILE - Cups of Chobani Yogurt sit on the shelf at Chobani Greek Yogurt in South Edmeston, N.Y.

An ongoing trade dispute between Russia and the U.S. has left American athletes in the Sochi Olympics without one of their diet staples -- yogurt.

U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul says officials are working to get Russia to approve the shipment of Chobani brand Greek yogurt. The New York-based company is an official sponsor of Team USA.

But Russia says it cannot allow the shipment without the necessary customs certificate for dairy products, which it says the U.S. Department of Agriculture has refused to provide.

In fact, Russia does not allow the importation of any American yogurt or dairy product and has not for several years, because of its problems with U.S. dairy standards.

Earlier this week, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer of New York urged the Russian ambassador to the U.S. to allow the 5,000 cups of yogurt into Sochi. Schumer called the customs certifications Russia is requesting "very specific and unattainable." And he said "there is no acceptable holdup," as the USDA is willing to provide a sanitary certificate to back the food's safety.

For now, the yogurt remains stuck in storage in the eastern U.S. state of New Jersey.
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