That bad batch of Chobani yogurt is giving its manufacturer a bad case of heartburn and making some of its customers sick. Chobani says it is speeding up its recall of the mold-infested yogurt following reports of 89 illnesses.
Earlier, consumers had complained the yogurt tasted funny and said the containers bulged oddly but there were initially no reports of illness. The company had previously claimed the mold did not present any safety issues.
The company now says that 95 percent of the recalled yogurt has been retrieved and destroyed. The affected yogurt cups have the code 16-012 and expiration dates between Sept. 11 and Oct. 7.
Besides making consumers sick, incidents like this can be disasters for a brand. Chobani had been surging in popularity in recent years, as consumers say they prefer its thicker consistency and relatively higher protein content when compared with the sweeter yogurt varieties that have long been sold in American supermarkets.
Consumers are quick to turn their backs on products that present safety issues, especially when the manufacturer does not respond quickly.
"I returned my first purchase of Chobani to Costco, after some of the lids started 'swelling.' Tried it again later, and found that it tasted just like any other yogurt. I now buy Fage...and like it much better!" Dawn Eshelman said in a Facebook posting, commenting on an earlier ConsumerAffairs story.
Consumers have flocked to Chobani's Facebook page to express their unhappiness.
"I only just found out about the recall. I have been sick for over a week with terrible abdominal pain and other symptoms and had no idea why. All of the yogurt I have has the code that is the subject of the recall," said a a consumer named Laurel. "I love your yogurt and don't plan to change brands, but please give me some answers. I am in great discomfort. I also contacted your website. I have not found any info anywhere on the web about how to treat the symptoms."
"Boy, have you blown this debacle," said a consumer using the name Jay Placemat./p>
Some took the opportunity to complain about other aspects of Chobani's products.
"Chobani - why don't you get a clue and become a leader in poison-free yogurt?" said one. "I used to buy your yogurt - now that I've learned it comes from cows fed with genetically engineered corn mix, I'm staying away from it by a cannon shot."
Chobani has been responding to the Facebook postings, assuring customers it's doing all it can and expressing concern over their welfare. But whether that will be enough remains to be seen.