Almost three weeks after Chobani recalled 35 flavors of yogurt that were tainted by mold, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that the number of unconfirmed reports of illnesses had risen to nearly 300.
FDA spokeswoman Shelly Burgess told the Twin Falls Times-News that the number of complaints had more than doubled since the organization released an initial report on Sep. 10, when the FDA had received 89 reports of illnesses from customers who had eaten Chobani products. At that time, an FDA spokeswoman told the publication that no cases had yet been confirmed but that Chobani was cooperating with the agency to expedite the recall.
The recall followed a move by Chobani to quietly pull affected yogurt cups from store shelves in early September, telling customers it had made a “voluntary” decision to fix “isolated quality concerns” and denying that there would be a formal recall. It later identified the tainted products as those bearing the code 16-012, with expiration dates between 9/11/2013 and 10/7/2013.
Amid a still growing number of complaints, the Times-News reported that spokespeople from Chobani had been evasive in explaining to customers exactly how the company's products had become tainted, precisely what measures it was taking to ensure that something like this would not happen again and why reports of illnesses were still pouring in. According to the report, customers have continued to contact the newspaper since the recall was announced, claiming they had gotten violently sick from eating the yogurt.
As of Sep. 12, the New York-based Greek-style yogurt manufacturer said that 95 percent of the affected yogurt had been destroyed. Since then, the company also announced it would be beginning a scheduled pilot school lunch program in four states. Chobani announced the news on its website on last week, writing, “We believe that everyone, especially kids, deserves access to healthy food options -- that’s why we’re excited to launch a historic pilot program with K-12 schools this fall semester.”
Federal and state officials said that the recall would not have an impact on the pilot program, and said shipments would not be delivered for another few weeks.
In a statement Chobani added: “In light of our voluntary recall, we want to clarify that none of the yogurt destined for schools has been affected. The yogurt for the pilot is being produced at our facility in New York State, while the product included in our voluntary recall is isolated to our Idaho facility. We remain committed to crafting the highest quality products made with only natural ingredients and are thrilled to bring our Greek Yogurt to students.”