Mucor circinelloides. It's a mouthful to say, and if you've dipped into a cup of Chobani Greek yogurt that tasted a little fizzy, you've probably had a mouthful of it.
According to the Twin Falls Times-News
, Mucor circinelloides—a species of mold associated with dairy, fruits and vegetables—has been identified by Chobani officials as responsible for tainting yogurt at the company's massive Twin Falls plant and spurring a recent nationwide recall of certain contaminated products.
However, the Times-News
reported, the company has yet to explain exactly what led to the contamination in the first place, and what safeguards—if any—are being put in place to protect against future outbreaks.
Though company officials maintain the mold does not pose a health risk, unconfirmed reports of illness have surfaced
. According to a statement
from the company: "Very rarely, it can act as an opportunistic pathogen, but not through food and usually only for people with compromised immune systems through inhalation."
Work continues uninterrupted at the Twin Falls plant, while Chobani has advised retailers and consumers alike to destroy yogurt containers with the code 16-012 and expiration dates Sept. 11-Oct. 7.
The recent mold contamination is one of several incidents in which the yogurt giant has had to defend its product on environmental and human health concerns. In June, Chobani officials were quizzed
by Twin Falls area residents on the potential environmental impacts of its massive production plant—the largest yogurt factory in the world. Concerns have centered on acid whey
, a byproduct of Greek yogurt manufacturing, disposal of which some worry could adversely affect groundwater supplies. Chobani vigorously denies
that the acid whey waste poses any threat.
Those with health concerns related to mold-tainted yogurt should contact the U.S. Food and Drug Administration: 1-800-332-1088.