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Lawmakers urge USDA to reclassify Greek yogurt in nutrition guidelines

By LEXIE O'CONNOR

NORWICH, N.Y. (WKTV) - Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Congressman Richard Hanna visited Chobani Greek yogurt Thursday to hear about the company's latest expansion efforts and announce their new push to put Greek yogurt in schools.

The two recently wrote a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) urging for a change in the MyPlate nutrition guides which currently do not differentiate Greek yogurt from traditional yogurt, despite it having double the protein.

"What sets Greek yogurt apart from regular yogurt is that producing it requires three times as much milk," said Senator Gillibrand. "That's why it has so much more protein than regular yogurt, twice as much in fact, it's also one of the reasons why it's so delicious!"

The lawmakers say if changed, Greek yogurt could give schools an affordable high protein option, benefiting students and the community.

"In the district I represent, the 24th Congress District, 80 percent of the economy is somehow related back to agriculture so this is a win for everyone," said Representative Hanna. "We want to do everything we can to keep Chobani here in New York state, make them grow, and grow the farms that serve them."

Senator Gillibrand says the change does not need new legislation, so could happen by the end of the year.

Chobani's CEO Hamdi Ulukaya thanked Gillibrand and Hanna's support and said now is the time to push for the reclassification.

"Basically we have a product that is winning right now on the face of kids, teenagers, young and old, people who have never touched yogurt are eating it now, bragging about it," said Ulukaya. "And in the end it became naturally powering team USA."

Chobani would put their kid-friendly "Champion" line in schools. Each yogurt is 100 calories, 8 grams of protein and in fun blended fruit flavors like Very Berry, Orange Vanilla, Honey-Nana and Vanilla Chocolate Chunk.

Senator Gillibrand is being challenged by Republican Wendy Long for U.S. Senate.

Congressman Hanna is being challenged by Democrat Dan Lamb for the newly formed 22nd district.

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