Chobani recalls some Greek yogurt cups due to mold making people sick

NEW YORK - Chobani says it's recalling some of its Greek yogurt cups that were affected by mold, a move prompted by reports of illnesses by some customers.

The recall comes about a week after the company first started asking retailers to pull the products from shelves, saying some cups were "swelling and bloating." Chobani had previously said it wasn't issuing a formal recall.

But the Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday that it was in talks with the company about the matter.

Chobani said that most of the affected products have already been pulled from shelves. The company, based in New Berlin, N.Y., said the affected products came from its Idaho facility and represents less than 5 percent of its total production.

The containers are marked with the code 16-012 and expiration dates Sept. 11 to Oct. 7.

In an interview, Chobani CEO Hamid Ulukaya said it was the company's decision to move to a recall, not the FDA's. He said the problem was caused by a type of mold that is commonly found in dairy environments. The issue has been "totally fixed," he said, noting that the mold became a problem because Chobani doesn't use preservatives in its products.

Ulukaya did not say exactly how many reports of illnesses the company received, but said it was not in the hundreds or thousands.

"Everybody in the company took this hard," Ulukaya said. "It shook us up."

This week, the company was responding online to customers who were complaining about their yogurt. One person said her yogurt was "unnervingly fizzy" and another said it tasted like "wine."

Others reported "swelling or bloating" in cups.

The affected products include a number of different size containers:

— Chobani 6 ounce cups

— Chobani 16 ounce tubs

— Chobani 32 ounce tubs

— Chobani 3.5 ounce cups

— Chobani Bite 3.5 ounce cups

— Chobani Flip 5.3 ounce containers

A representative for Kroger, the nation's largest traditional supermarket operator, said Chobani issued a product withdrawal Friday.

Chobani, which says it uses only high-quality, natural ingredients, has grown rapidly since it was founded in 2005.

Greek yogurt in general has surged in popularity as well, with fans saying 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.

The private company had an estimated $244 million in revenue in 2010, according to S&P Capital IQ.

Chobani says customers with the affected code dates should contact its customer service team at care@chobani.com to get replacement products.