Chobani consumers concerned about yogurt

The company still offers few details on reports of cups gone bad.

kmoeller@idahostatesman.comSeptember 2, 2013 

As some flavors of Chobani yogurt are being pulled off store shelves across the country, customers are reporting that the yogurt they've purchased appears to have spoiled.

"It is not unreasonable to ask for a well detailed explanation of the issues with Chobani being removed from the shelves," Jean Oberhaus said in a message on the company's Facebook page.

Chobani officials have said very little publicly. On the company's Facebook page, the problem is described as one of quality, not food safety.

"Upon hearing of isolated quality concerns surrounding certain cups, we investigated the situation and have been diligently working with our retail partners to voluntarily and proactively remove and replace cups where there have been reports that don't meet our very rigid quality standards so that only the best Chobani products can be found on store shelves," said Chobani Chief Communications Officer Nicki Briggs in a statement e-mailed to the Statesman late Sunday.

There has been no official recall of Chobani yogurt, according to FoodSafety.gov, recall website operated by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

Customers with concerns about bad product are asked to contact Chobani's "customer loyalty team" via email at care@chobani.com.

Oberhaus noted that she saw signs in her Kansas grocery store that the product has been removed from shelves until Oct. 1. Some stores in Idaho have pulled all the yogurt from shelves, while other stores are only pulling flavors that show sign of problems.

Lance Brown, department team lead at the Boise Co-op, said he noticed issues with Chobani yogurt cups about a week and a half ago. Two or three customers returned product to the store Sunday, he said.

The store is pulling those yogurt cups that appear to be "puffy," or with swelled packaging. Some of the affected flavors: key lime, apricot, blueberry and strawberry.

Brown said he's also tasting the yogurts to be sure they're fresh. Those that are spoiled smell and taste like it.

"The second you put it in your mouth, you know it's not right," he said, noting that it has a tangy spoiled orange flavor. He said the only issues he's seen are with the 6-ounce cups; the 32-ounce containers haven't shown sign of puffiness.

Brown said the co-op and other area stores get their Chobani from the Twin Falls plant, though it's actually shipped from a distribution site in Ridgefield, Wa. As of Sunday, the co-op had about 100 cups that it had set aside to return to Chobani.

Brown said this sort of issue occurs from time to time with perishable goods.

"You get something with only a shelf life of three weeks, and it has living bacteria in it," he said. "Who knows what caused this whole fiasco."

Katy Moeller: 377-6413

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