December 8, 2014 — The Twin Falls Times-News has found evidence that the state of Idaho knew about mold problems at a Chobani yogurt facility two months before the company issued a voluntary recall.
More than 300 people were sickened after eating yogurt contaminated with Mucor circinelloides, a mold commonly found in yogurt production. Symptoms included nausea, abdominal cramps, and vomiting, sometimes lasting days.
Documents (PDF) released to the newspaper under a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request indicate that mold was found during a routine inspection in July.
Lab technicians found “yeast like growth developing in the yogurt samples” and some products showing signs of swelling.
According to the FDA:
“The firm at this point believed it was a yeast problem and began an equipment cleaning regimentation but found the problem was being reduced but not stopped, so samples were sent to [redacted], where a mold growth of Mucor circinelloides was plated.”
The Idaho Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Pamela Juker told the Times-News that state regulators never found mold during the July inspection, and she is unsure where the FDA got their information.
Problems with the yogurt began to surface on the company’s Facebook page in August. In September 2013, Chobani recalled yogurt that was produced at one facility in Twin Falls, Idaho. Earlier this year, microbiologists warned that everyone who ate the yogurt could potentially get sick.
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