Chobani

FDA Gets Nearly 300 Reports of Illness from Chobani Yogurt

2013-09-25T02:00:00Z FDA Gets Nearly 300 Reports of Illness from Chobani YogurtBy Joe Cadotte - jcadotte@magicvalley.com Twin Falls Times-News
September 25, 2013 2:00 am  • 

TWIN FALLS, Idaho • Although two months have passed since rumors first surfaced about moldy yogurt cups from Chobani’s Twin Falls plant, droves of people continue to report illnesses to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, an FDA spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Reports of illness from tainted Chobani Yogurt have more than doubled over the past two weeks. The FDA received nearly 300 unconfirmed reports of illness since Sept. 10, when the initial report was at 89, said spokeswoman Shelly Burgess.

The FDA inspected the yogurt facility in Twin Falls Sept. 5 and did not find food-safety law violations, Burgess said.

That’s why the FDA did not issue a mandatory recall, she said. Burgess declined to confirm or deny any investigation into Chobani.

The company voluntarily recalled 35 varieties of its yogurt from stores nationwide nearly a month ago. A Chobani spokeswoman told the Times-News in early September that 95 percent of the affected product had been destroyed.

At least three consumers have contacted the Times-News since then, saying they were violently ill for days after consuming Chobani yogurt.

A class-action lawsuit was filed against Chobani in California earlier this month, alleging the company hadn’t “taken the proper precautions,” leading to retail profit loss and widespread illness, reported classactioncentral.com.

Chobani spokeswomen repeatedly have sidestepped questions about how the yogurt was tainted, what the company is doing to avoid another outbreak of mold, and why illnesses still are being reported long after the affected cups were removed from stores.

Mike Rozembajgier, an analyst with ExpertRECALL, cited five flaws with Chobani’s response to its crisis:

— Chobani didn’t have a plan when its product needed to be removed so, with no established processes, the recall was very inefficient.

— Despite news reports describing customers’ observations of their defective yogurt cups, Chobani insisted this was not a food safety issue.The inconsistent messaging confused consumers and made the company appear untrustworthy.

— While responses to a Chobani Facebook post illustrated the problem’s importance to customers, Chobani responded with only one relevant Facebook post and tweets that simply directed customers to the company website. Quickly addressing affected parties mitigates the risk of the issue spinning out of control.

— Chobani tried to conduct a quiet withdrawal instead of a recall. In a recall, transparency with regulatory bodies such as the FDA is critical. This ensures that the recall meets all requirements and therefore allows the recalling company to return to business quickly and safely.

— Response to customer complaints has not been swift. Customers are complaining about Chobani’s response time, indicating a lack of communications management. Leveraging a call center can be a way to quickly and effectively manage a high volume of customer inquiries.

Several public health officials and a food scientist with the University of Idaho told the Times-News in early September that the type of mold found in the affected yogurt cups was only harmful to people with compromised immune systems.

The affected yogurt cups have the code 16-012 and expiration dates from Sept. 11 to Oct. 7.

The FDA encourages people to report any concerns related to Chobani yogurt to their local FDA recall coordinator. A list and contact numbers are available at fda.gov

Copyright 2015 Twin Falls Times-News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(3) Comments

  1. MimoJenkins
    Report Abuse
    MimoJenkins - October 01, 2013 2:43 pm
    ouchmyneck - You are comparing apples and oranges - so silly! Your "comparisons" have nothing to do with getting very sick and having your health compromised - worsened only by binge ignored by the formerly trusted company that the ill consumer, supported. It's a little transparent that you are either an employee of Chobani, related to an employee of Chobani, or an employee of Chobani's PR firm - all the same who are blowing up their facebook page on the hour with fake posts professing love for the flavors. I'm sure that if you watched your helpless child or loved one (or, yourself) get very ill and then be stonewalled by the company - not even an apology or acknowledgement - would change your tune. Many, many consumers truly became ill from the recalled product and were truly disregarded and/or ignored by Chobani when the illness was reported. At the same time, those who did not eat the yogurt, but purchased it, received great customer service. Ignoring those who got ill - are you hiding something? Are you afraid to take accountability by a simple acknowledgement or apology, because, if anything being hidden comes out, you don't want any admission of guilt? Worse, people are now reporting having bloated containers, mold under lids, and some are getting sick off of yogurt that is not part of the recall! This is a big problem, not some made up story or something to be taken lightly.....not when it's affecting so many people's health in the exact same way. These are real people who trusted a product that failed them - and not only failed them, but made them really sick - either themselves or their family members. And worse, the company responsible for the illnesses, has turned their backs on their consumers abruptly. I believe that if you witnessed your otherwise healthy child (if you even are a parent) suffer and experience gastrointestinal distress with projectile vomiting, directly linked to the yogurt, you might be a little more understanding as to why this really matters to real people. Because you did not experience it, does not mean it did not happen to others - and a burned potato chip is not the same as a horrible gastrointestinal illness. Nice "spin" attempt though.
  2. Chris______
    Report Abuse
    Chris______ - September 27, 2013 8:34 am
    This article covers the fact that Chobani tried to down play this issue. They posted "if it looks okay" it probably is and told people there wasn't any health risk. Then a few days later they issue a recall and instruct everyone to avoid the 'arbitrary' date range they released. Why do I say 'arbitrary' ? Because from the looks of it people are still reporting issues with yogurt long after those recalled dates.

    They've deleted countless complaints, reports of illness, censored voices they didn't agree with (mine included) all for trying to inform people of the issue and the 'withdrawal' before they would acknowledge it. I watched the President of their marketing firm post nonchalantly on the Chobani Facebook page, as if he was just a consumer in the midst of this.

    I've had bad food experiences too, it happens. I don't lose trust in a company because they had a quality control issue. I have a problem with this company because when faced with a crisis, they chose to cover it up, act as if it wasn't an issue, delete posts from concerned parents as their children were ill and try to pass it all off as if it was a small issue and act as if they had it under control when clearly they were still in denial.

    I don't trust my continued health and nutrition to a company that can't be honest when the was a mistake.
  3. ouchmyneck
    Report Abuse
    ouchmyneck - September 25, 2013 8:10 pm
    I once got a burned potato chip in a bag of Lays -- still love Lays
    I once got a got a gallon of milk that had soured from Smiths -- still love milk
    I once got a hollow heart potato from the produce department -- still love potatoes
    I once got a Washington apple with a worm in it -- still love apples
    I once ate a piece of cheese with a bit of mold on it -- still love cheese.
    I once ate a Jack-in-the-box hamburger -- still love hamburgers
    I once ate a Dannon Yogurt cup -- still love sugar fake flavoring and preservatives

    I once got a Chobani with a puffy top -- Still love Chobani and eat it twice a day.
    CHOBANI ROCKS -- Soon the word Chobani will be a verb and not just a noun. --

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