We have good news and bad news regarding the fungus-related recall of a large amount of Chobani brand greek yogurt. Affected products were distributed nationwide, causing reactions among consumers that ranged from “that tastes a little weird” to “HONEY, THE YOGURT EXPLODED!” The company has named the mold, but according to the FDA 89 people so far have reported becoming sick from the yogurts.
It all began with the contamination of an Idaho Chobani yogurt plant with mystery mold. Now that mystery mold has a name: Mucor circinelloides. The organism has a role in food production, namely in producing those mysterious “natural flavors” that appear in so many ingredient lists.
According to a food expert at Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the mold should not make people sick, unless they have a compromised immune system. It isn’t a food-borne pathogen.
Mucor circinelloides is a species of mold commonly associated with fruits, vegetables and dairy that has been reported to cause spoilage like swelling and bloating in yogurt. It is not considered a disease-causing foodborne microorganism.
This mold should not pose a health risk to most consumers. Very rarely, it can act as an opportunistic pathogen, but not through food and usually only for people with compromised immune systems through inhalation. The organism is regularly used for the production of natural flavor compounds that are widely used in the food industry.
The Food and Drug Administration, meanwhile, says that it has received 89 reports of illnesses from people who consumed affected Chobani products. Were these all opportunistic infections or people who ate sour-tasting yogurt and gagged on it? We’ll find out eventually.
Mold behind Chobani recall poses little threat to consumers [Cornell University]
FDA Receives 89 Reports of Illness from Chobani Yogurt [Twin Falls Times-News]