September 6, 2013 — Yogurt maker Chobani has identified the mold that triggered a Greek yogurt recall yesterday is the Mucor circinelloides fungus. The company stated that it is “a mold commonly found in the dairy environment.”
The mold can grow in industrial stirred-tank fermenters, according to a resource from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
Mucor circinelloides is a fungus found in soil, plants, and decaying organic matter. It is common in nature. Although it been previously linked to previous cases of spoiled yogurt, it is unlikely to pose a health risk to most consumers, according to Cornell University Professor Randy Worobo. He said it can grow on yogurt only when the product is kept above refrigeration levels.
According to a statement from Chobani CEO Hamid Ulukaya on the website:
“While this type of mold is common in the dairy environment, particularly when using only natural ingredients that are absent of artificial preservatives, it’s still unacceptable to me and all of our yogurt makers.”
Although the fungus is unlikely to cause food poisoning in healthy adults, but it can cause life-threatening infections in people with compromised immune systems. Infections caused by fungi in the Mucor genus are called zygomycosis or “mucormycosis.” The infection often invades blood vessels, which can lead to complications including tissue death (necrosis).
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