Chobani Yogurt Mold Was More Dangerous Than Consumers Told: Report

A group of microbiologists indicate that a recent Chobani Yogurt recall may have posed a much greater health risk than the manufacturer originally acknowledged, finding that the containers of the greek yogurt contained fungi that has been proven to cause serious and potentially fatal infections.

In a study published in the medical journal mBIO on July 8, researchers from Duke University and the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill indicate that they isolated a potentially deadly strain of the M. circinelloides pathogen from one of the half-eaten Chobani greek yogurt containers that were recalled in September 2013.

Chobani recalled all flavors of their popular greek yogurt following multiple reports from consumer that the products were moldy and runny. To date, more than 300 people have reported becoming ill with stomach-virus like symptoms after eating the yogurt.

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The manufacturer has previously indicated that the products may not have been processed with enough preservatives to maintain before their “Best By” dates, potentially causing them to spoil. However, Chobani did not include information about the food-borne pathogen or the potentially serious health effects that could result from eating the spoiled yogurt.

In the study released this month, author Soon Chan Lee and other scientists from Duke University indicate that when the recall came to light, they were concerned the type of food-borne fungi pathogen that was growing in the yogurt may be more harmful than was being illustrated. The fungal pathogen M. circinelloides has been proven to cause potentially fatal infections in humans and when injected into mice it killed majority of them.

The scientists discovered the Mucor circinelloides strain pulled from a half-eaten yogurt container was a particular strain known to cause fungi infections in humans. Subjects who have orally consumed or been injected with M. circinelloides into the bloodstream have been known to suffer from mild to severe nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, which is consistent with the consumer reports Chobani has received.

Chobani has denied all allegations that the yogurt could have contained serious or fatally ill fungal infections. However, mBIO’s report pointed to related cases in the past showing Mucor infections can “cause fatal fungal infections through ingestion of contaminated foods or medicines.”

The recall included Chobani Greek Yogurt sold in the following brand and sizes; Chobani 6 ounce, 16 ounce, 32 ounce, 3.5 ounce, Chobani Bite packaged in 3.5 ounce, Chobani Flip in 5.3ounce containers, Chobani Champions cups in 3.5 ounce containers, and Chobani Champions tubes packaged in 2.25 ounce and sold in packages of 8, 16, and 36 counts.

As a result of the recall, a Chobani yogurt class action lawsuit has been filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, seeking to pursue damages on behalf of all consumers who ate the recalled yogurt.

Photo Courtesy of tbiley via Flickr CC2.0


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