Last week, news of a Chobani moldy yogurt recall exploded across the nation, and now the yogurt giant has named the mold at the center of the recall: Mucor circinelloide.
Randy Worobo, a professor of Food Science in Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and a leading expert on food spoilage, microbial food safety and quality, said on Chobani’s blog that Mucor circinelloides is “a species of mold commonly associated with fruits, vegetables and dairy that has been reported to cause spoilage like swelling and bloating in yogurt. It is not considered a disease-causing foodborne microorganism.”
“This mold should not pose a health risk to most consumers,” Worobo added. "Very rarely, it can act as an opportunistic pathogen, but not through food and usually only for people with compromised immune systems through inhalation. The organism is regularly used for the production of natural flavor compounds that are widely used in the food industry.”
The recall affected less than 5 percent of Chobani’s products and even prompted a federal probe. The mold caused the yogurt products to swell, distorting the packaging and even causing some to burst.
"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," Ulukaya said in a letter to customers.
“I'm sorry we let you down,” he added.
Though Chobani has yet to announce the number of people sickened by the recall, Chobani CEO Hamdi Ulukaya told the Associated Press it was not in the hundreds of thousands.