Update: Chobani identified the mold as M. circinelloides, which food scientist Randy Worobo says should not pose a health risk to most consumers.
Original item, September 5: Some alarming news for fans of highly proteinaceous yogurt: This morning Upstate New York-based yogurt maker Chobani issued a formal recall of cups manufactured at its Idaho plant, around five percent of its total production. Chobani has been quietly contacting individual stores for a week after the company was flooded with reports from consumers of bloated cups, odd-tasting yogurt, and, in some cases, gastrointestinal illness.
The bad batch is linked to a mold found at the Idaho plant. A total of 15 flavors were pulled, all with expiration dates between September 11 and October 7.
The company began pulling the yogurt off shelves when customers took to social media to express concern over the yogurt’s strange taste, complaining of a “fizzy” taste and a runny consistency.
At first, the company balked at a formal recall, opting instead to contact stores directly. Once news of the contamination broke, the Food and Drug Administration launched a probe into the contamination. Chobani CEO Hamid Ulukaya insists, however, that the recall is was strictly Chobani’s call, not the FDA’s.
Ulukaya took to Facebook this morning to express his apologies for the contamination, telling customers that they could register their complaints at the Chobani website.
Update, September 6: The Chobani website is back up, and Ulukaya has given more specifics regarding the contamination at the company facility in Idaho. The letter largely confirms what we already knew: The recall was voluntary, and a mold that’s common in dairy processing environments caused the contamination. No word yet on exactly what mold it was.
We’ve reached out to Chobani to determine which retailers were carrying the bad batch and what mold specifically cause the contamination. We’re awaiting comment.
Below is the letter in full:
Dear fans and customers,
I’m sorry we let you down.
From the workers in our factories to our sales teams on the road, there is nothing we take greater pride in than making a perfect cup of yogurt.
Chobani was created to make great yogurt that is accessible to everyone, so I take it very seriously and personally when we don’t deliver for our fans and consumers.
We recently identified mold in a limited amount of product that came from our Idaho facility.
While this type of mold is common in the dairy environment, particularly when using only natural ingredients that are absent of artificial preservatives, it’s still unacceptable to me and all of our yogurt makers.
Over the past few days, with the help of our retail partners, we proactively withdrew product from store shelves and I decided to voluntarily recall the limited amount of remaining product to be extra careful and cautious.
My heartfelt apologies to our friends, fans and consumers who were impacted, as your loyalty and safety is something we cherish and never take for granted.
We have worked round the clock to fully fix the issue and have been shipping fresh product to stores.
In the meantime, if you purchased yogurt with the code 16-012, Best By: 9/11/2013 – 10/7/ 2013 please discard and contact our Customer Loyalty Team at chobani.com/care to get replacements or refunds.
Thank you very much for your understanding and support.