BOISE -- Investigations are underway into claims that a certain batch of Chobani yogurt has caused sickness.
Last week, Chobani announced a voluntary recall of less than five percent of their products. It involved cups that appeared swollen and were produced in Twin Falls, with an expiration date between September 11th and October 7th. The affected yogurt cups also had a code of 16-012.
Chobani said the issue was mold, and it was only a quality concern, not a health issue.
On Tuesday, Chobani released this statement to KTVB:
"I can tell you that we take any claims of illness very seriously and encourage anyone who has concerns to contact us. We will thoroughly investigate each claim. As you can appreciate, we have received higher than normal call and email volumes to our Customer Loyalty Team during this time. We are working to get back to each and every person as soon as we can."
The FDA told KTVB, as of Monday, they received 89 reports of illness from Chobani yogurt, but none of those claims have been confirmed as connected to the yogurt.
Boise resident Pam Stetzel said a recalled cup of blueberry yogurt made her violently ill.
"I really think it was from the Chobani yogurt, I really believe that," said Stetzel.
Stetzel said she ate the yogurt on August 30th and within 2 hours of eating it, she became very sick and had to be rushed to the hospital.
"I just started really getting bad diarrhea, and then I started vomiting," said Stetzel.
Stetzel already has diabetes, along with an auto-immune disease, and knows that both could have increased her chance of getting sick. But she's not the only one who claims this tainted yogurt caused a sickness.
Central District Health Department's Tom Schmalz said they have been watching the situation closely.
"There's been 89 cases of reported illness to the FDA for Chobani but no confirmed link that the yogurt is actually caused the illness," said Schmalz.
The FDA is now looking into each report, and Chobani said they are investigating the cases as well. But Schmalz said it's very difficult to link a specific food with a specific sickness.
"It's very important for us to have three days of food history, and fairly detailed information on what they ate when they ate it," said Schmalz.
Meanwhile, Stetzel said despite several attempts to contact Chobani, she has not heard back, and she believes the company should have done more.
"I think they should issue an apology and compensate for people who got really sick," said Stetzel.
The Central District Health said they received three calls: two people concerned about the Chobani recall, and one who reported a sickness. The South Central District told KTVB they've had two calls. The health department is directing all of those callers to the FDA.
If you need to report a suspected food-caused illness, please call the FDA complaint hotline at (800) 353-3965.
The symptoms connected with Chobani yogurt are nausea and cramps.
"The FDA’s role regarding voluntary recalls is to oversee the strategy of a company’s recall as well as assess the adequacy of the recall. This is ongoing with Chobani at this time.
As of yesterday, the FDA has received 89 complaints. The various issues reported included cramps, nausea, headache and diarrhea following consumption of the recalled yogurt.
Mucor circinelloide, the type of mold found in the yogurt, 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 food borne microorganism.
This mold should not pose a health risk to most consumers. 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."