FDA probes Chobani yogurt

Idaho StatesmanSeptember 3, 2013 

— The spoiled Chobani yogurt that is being pulled from grocery shelves across the nation affected about 5 percent of Chobani’s national production, company spokeswoman Amy Juaristi said Tuesday.

Juaristi said Chobani had notified stores over the weekend to remove yogurt cups with the code 16-012 and expiration dates from Sept. 11 to Oct. 7.

“Anything between those dates, we’ll call in for credit from our distributor,” said Lance Brown, department team leader at the Boise Co-op.

Chobani is the best-selling yogurt at the co-op, Brown said. Half of the nearly 250 cups he removed from shelves to return to Chobani had the puffy, bloated top that reportedly accompanies the spoiled yogurt.

Chobani is communicating and cooperating with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration about the problem, Juaristi said.

“It’s in everybody’s best interest for the public to get aware and for us to get the product off of shelves and out of fridges,” she said.

“That’s what we’re trying to do, and equally that’s what the FDA is trying to do.”

Juaristi said the company received reports on its Facebook page that customers got sick after eating the product. However, she said, the company’s investigation hasn’t turned up any confirmed sicknesses related to the spoiled yogurt.

“Whether it’s in this situation or any other day of the week, we take those comments very seriously and investigate them properly,” Juaristi said.

“We don’t think it’s a food safety issue.”

The Idaho Central Health District, which covers Ada, Elmore, Boise and Valley Counties, received no reports about sickness relating to Chobani yogurt, agency spokesman Dave Fotsch said.

Representatives of the South Central Public Health District in Twin Falls did not return a telephone call seeking comment. Chobani says the problem products are because of mold at its Twin Falls plant.

The FDA can’t comment on whether the yogurt poses a health risk until it concludes its investigation, agency spokeswoman Laurel Eu said from the regional office in Los Angeles.

“I can’t confirm anything,” Eu said. “At this point, we’re still gathering and reviewing information.”

Juaristi declined to comment on how many units were removed from shelves or how widely the cups that were potentially spoiled were distributed.

Reports of Chobani being removed from shelves have come from Kansas and the Seattle area, and Facebook posters from California to Maryland have reported buying and trying Chobani yogurt that looked and tasted off.

Zach Kyle: 377-6464

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