Russian yogurt blockade unleashes diplomatic row with US ahead of Sochi Games

US Senator calls on Russian authorities to lift restrictions, insists American athletes cannot be deprived of protein-rich snack

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The Independent Online

A failed Greek yogurt delivery has sparked a diplomatic row between Russia and the United States ahead of the Sochi Winter Olympics, after Russian authorities reportedly blocked the shipment of 5,000 units of Chobani yogurt.

On Tuesday, US senator Chuck Schumer lodged an official complaint calling on Russian authorities to lift all restrictions in a letter to the Russian embassy in Washington.

Schumer, an advocate for the Greek yogurt industry, argues that Chobani, which has production facilities in New York and is a sponsor for the US Olympic and Paralympic team, has met all sanitary requirements and is safe for consumption.

In the letter, he said: "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.

"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."

In a separate statement, senator Schumer added:"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."

The containers are currently being held in a cold storage unit near Newark Liberty Airport in New Jersey. But it seems the protein snack won't make it to the finish line.

Russian authorities said US officials failed to comply with the necessary paperwork ahead of the games, and as a "lawful country", the yogurt cannot enter Russia without customs certification, which the senator's office described as "very specific and unattainable".

Chobani is the top-selling Greek yogurt brand in the US.