Chobani Greek Yogurt is currently the second most popular brand of yogurt in the U.S. after Yoplait. Thanks to its thick and creamy texture, variety of flavors, and high protein levels, it’s a popular option among the health- and diet-conscious crowd.
But the Chobani brand landed in hot water last week, finally issuing a voluntary recall of moldy cups of its Greek yogurt after angry complaints on Facebook and Twitter and unofficial attempts by the company to remove their product from store shelves.
Unhappy customers flooded Chobani’s social media pages with complaints starting at the end of August, saying their yogurt tasted “fizzy” and that the normally thick yogurt was thin and soupy.
An official voluntary recall came nearly a week later, but not everyone is satisfied.
FDA Calls Chobani’s Reaction “Odd”
The FDA called the privately-held Chobani’s handling of the complaints “odd.” Instead of issuing a recall immediately upon identifying a problem, Chobani opted at first to work directly with retailers to remove the cups from store shelves.
In a statement to the Chicago Tribune, a Chobani spokesperson said there was limited risk to consumers:
Chobani said it is removing the product “due to some claims of illness,” though a spokeswoman, Amy Juaristi, downplayed the claims, saying the mold, which can occur in dairy, “is unlikely to have ill health effects.” Juaristi said tainted cups would be replaced.
As of September 6, Chobani’s blog and Facebook page positively identified the culprit as Mucor Circinelloides, and said the mold “Is not considered a disease-causing foodborne[sic] microorganism.”
Still, acknowledging that fizzy yogurt is pretty gross, Chobani will replace all cups of yogurt bearing the code 16-012 and expiration dates between 9/11/13 and 10/7/13.
Chobani Claims Problem Solved, but Customers Still Upset
By the time they issued the recall, Chobani claimed they had already removed 95% of the tainted yogurt from stores, and that the mold was only present in yogurt produced in their Idaho facility. Chobani says the problem only affected 5% of their production line.
Angry customers have other stories. Chobani directed customers to a web contact form, but as of today, their Facebook page is now covered with customers complaining of slow responses from customer care representatives. Unhappy consumers are also asking for refunds rather than replacements, and many are promising to never buy Chobani again.
Meanwhile, the FDA continues to monitor the situation. Reports the Chicago Tribune:
FDA spokeswoman Tamara Ward said the agency is continuing its discussions with Chobani. She declined to give further details. On Wednesday Ward said the FDA was looking into the situation to assess the level of risk to the public and to determine whether the company was communicating appropriately with the public.
We’ll have to see if the situation continues to be “odd.”
Don’t Wait for the Recall, Do Your Own Research
Chobani’s delay in issuing an official recall on the moldy yogurt is a reminder to consumers: if something seems “off” about a food product you purchased, don’t take the chance.
In this case, customer complaints were showing up on Chobani’s website long before an official recall statement was released or a recall enacted. Be a proactive consumer and use the tools at your disposal, especially the web! Find out what other consumers are saying. A few minutes on the Internet may reveal you’re not the only one with fizzy yogurt.
If you’ve ever had trouble getting resolution with a product recall, let us know.
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