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Chobani identifies mold in yogurt, says it's not a risk to most

Greek yogurt-maker Chobani has recalled products nationwide after reports of consumer illness.Food Safety News

Greek yogurt maker Chobani has identified the mold responsible for a recall of products from store shelves nationwide, but says that it won't make most people sick. 

On its Facebook page Friday, the company said extensive testing had detected a mold called Mucor circinelloides in samples of yogurt. Company officials cited Randy Worobo, an associate professor of food science at Cornell University, who said the mold is "not considered a disease-causing foodborne microorganism."

“This mold should not pose a health risk to most consumers," Worobo said in statement. "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 mold is typically associated with fruits, vegetables and dairy products, added Worobo.

Another food safety scientist, David Mills at the University of California, Davis, told NBC News that the mold shouldn't have been there. 

"It most definitely is not one of the bugs used to make yogurt," he said. "So it shouldn't be thought of as part of the yogurt-making process."

Chobani recalled yogurt products on Thursday, a week after consumers began complaining of finding bloated, swollen containers and foul-smelling yogurt. Some said they'd become ill after eating the spoiled yogurt. 

Chobani products marked with the code 16-012 and best-by dates of Sept. 11, 2013 to Oct. 7, 2013 are affected by the voluntary recall. 

The recall includes all flavors Chobani of 3.5-ounce and 6-ounce cups and 16-ounce and 32-ounce tubs. It also includes all flavors of Chobani Bite and Chobani Champions 3.5-ounce cups, all flavors of Chobani Flip 5.3-ounce containers and all flavors of Chobani Champions 2.25-ounce tubes in eight, 16 and 36 count packages. 

For a complete list of products, see the FDA's recall notice. 

Chobani officials told consumers to visit the firm's consumer website or call a hotline, but customers told NBC News that neither option was working. 

JoNel Aleccia is a senior health reporter with NBC News. Reach her on Twitter at @JoNel_Aleccia or send her an email.