Chobani yogurt removed from store shelves

Idaho StatesmanSeptember 1, 2013 

Chobani customer Ashley Smith posted this photo Saturday on Chobani's Facebook page. It shows Greek yogurt from the company that appears to have gone bad. The photo was later removed from the site.

— Grocery stores in the Treasure Valley have pulled Chobani Greek yogurt from their shelves following what the company is refusing to call a recall.

A spot check of Albertson's, Fred Meyer and Winco stores in Boise on Saturday revealed those retailers have removed cups of Chobani yogurt from their refrigerator cases. Employees said they were removed over the past few days.

Chobani says the removal of its yogurt from retail stores does not involve a food safety problem. In a blog entry posted Saturday on the company's website, Chobani says it discovered a problem that causes its yogurt "to go bad before its time."

No listing for Chobani products was found on the FoodSafety.gov recall website operated by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. The website lists recalls and alerts from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Chobani opened one of the world's largest yogurt production plants in Twin Falls last December. The facility cost $450 million and covers 950,000 square feet.

The Statesman was unable to reach Chobani officials Saturday evening. Calls to the company's Twin Falls production facility — a $450 million, 950,000- square-foot facility that opened in December — went unanswered. A recording listed business hours between Monday and Friday.

A national Customer Loyalty Team phone number also went unanswered. An email sent Saturday evening to Chobani's media representative was not immediately returned.

The blog entry — at http://cho.ba/18tPEcF — gives a link to an online form where people whose yogurt doesn't look fresh can contact the company.

The product removal was evidently prompted by customer complaints, according to the blog.

"When we heard quality concerns surrounding certain cups, we thoroughly investigated and proactively decided to replace product on shelves across the country. We were able to isolate the issue and determine it is one of quality, causing product to go bad before its time, not one of food safety," the blog said.

The company said it was working to replace the yogurt cups pulled from the stores.

The first three complaints questioning yogurt quality were posted Aug. 22 on Chobani's Facebook page.

A customer from Lone Tree Colo., Lora Hamilton David, wrote that she opened a container of Key Lime pie yogurt that had a metallic taste. The next day, she pulled out a container from her refrigerator and the seal was puffy and "had foamy bubbles leaking out one side."

The same day, Baltimore resident Dionna Dunbar wrote that a peach yogurt tasted "expired" and had a sour taste.

A third person, Krystal DeLeeuw of Tulare, Calif., wrote that four cups of yogurt she bought had expanded and were threatening to explode. She wrote that she ate from a fifth cup the day before and the yogurt tasted tangy, "almost like when orange juice goes bad."

In each case, a company representative asked the customers to email the company at care@chobani.com but did not explain what might have caused the problem.

Later Saturday evening, it appeared those posts and some others complaining about the taste and the appearance of Chobani's yogurt had been removed from the Facebook page. It was unclear who might have removed them. Other complaint posts remained on the site.

The company also provided a link to its blog entry there.

John Sowell: 377-6423, Twitter: @IDS_Sowell

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