U.S. yogurt maker Chobani officially recalled moldy Greek yogurt following customer complaints that the yogurt tasted runny and fizzy, with some illnesses reported.
The recall, which was announced Thursday, comes almost one week after Chobani attempted to quietly remove the yogurt from store shelves without the public’s knowledge, a strategy the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) called “unusual.”
Amy Juaristi, company spokeswoman, said privately held Chobani is removing the product “due to some claims of illness,” though she downplayed these claims, saying the mold, which can occur in dairy, “is unlikely to have ill effects.” Juaristi said tainted cups would be replaced.
Chobani’s problems started last Friday, when unhappy yogurt eaters began to complain, flooding the company’s Facebook and Twitter pages about foul smells, bloated containers and gastrointestinal distress.
This week, the company was responding online to customers who were complaining about their yogurt. One person said her yogurt was “unnervingly fizzy” and another said it tasted like “wine.”
Some consumers commented on the characteristically thick Greek yogurt’s “runny” consistency and said they would not buy Chobani products again.
The company had asked some retailers last week to remove certain yogurt cups from store shelves but a formal recall was not issued.
The private company said that the problem had affected less than 5 percent of its production and that 95 percent of the tainted cups had been identified by Thursday morning. The mold was limited to yogurt cups produced at Chobani’s Idaho facility. The company also has a plant in New York and one in Australia.
Chobani said cups with the code 16-012 and a “best by” date between September 11th and October 7th to dispose of the yogurt and get in touch for a refund.
Greek-style yogurt, which is thicker, creamier, and often higher in protein than other types of yogurt, now make up more than 40 percent of the U.S. yogurt market, Reuters has reported.
“Through extensive testing and expert consultation, we now know that the mold found in the products we voluntarily recalled this week is a species called Mucor circinelloides,” the company said. “Mucor circinelloides is not considered a foodborne pathogen.”
However, mucor circinelloides is an emerging infectious disease and is recognized as a prevalent fungal infection in patients with impaired immunity through inhalation.
Another food safety scientist, David Mills at the University of California, Davis, told NBC News that the mold shouldn’t have been there.
“It most definitely is not one of the bugs used to make yogurt,” he said. “So it shouldn’t be thought of as part of the yogurt-making process.”
The recall includes all flavors Chobani 3.5 ounce and 6 ounce cups and 16 ounce and 32 ounce tubs. It also includes all flavors of Chobani Bite and Chobani Champions 3.5 ounce cups, all flavors of Chobani Flip 5.3 ounce containers and all flavors of Chobani Champions 2.25 ounce tubes in eight, 16 and 36 count packages.
Chobani has been around for five years and has grown into a billion dollar company.
Feel free to contact one of our Gacovino Lake attorneys at 1-800-246-HURT (4878) for more information.