Thursday, August 7, 2014

Moldy yogurt

Last year a bad batch of yogurt was giving its manufacturer a really bad case of heartburn and making some of its customers sick. The company had to recall of the mold-infested yogurt following reports of over 200 customers becoming ill with nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Earlier, consumers had complained about the strange taste of the yogurt and reported that some containers bulged oddly, however, there were initially no reports of illness. The company had previously claimed the mold did not present any safety issues but after the first illness reports came in they had to take the batch from the market. Interestingly, after the incident the company claimed that the mold was naturally occurring and not considered a food-borne pathogen.

A new study indicates the opposite and its authors state that the particular strain of fungus found in the yogurt might pose a rather serious health risk:

In this study, we obtained a plain Chobani yogurt that was within the manufacturer’s voluntary date recall range and also in the production lot subject to recall. This sample was provided by a couple in Texas who both consumed the contaminated product. Both individuals developed nausea and diarrhea, and one also developed vomiting.

The researchers isolated Mucor circinelloides from the yogurt container and applied DNA Barcoding to further identify its exact subspecies which turned out to be the most virulent subspecies, Mucor circinelloides forma circinelloides.

In virulence tests with two mucormycosis virulence models, we found that the isolate infects animals and causes mortality. Our results demonstrate that M. circinelloides is a food-borne pathogen that can cause lethal mucormycosis and suggest that caution should be exercised with respect to fungal pathogens in food, particularly for individuals who are immunocompromised.

Of course the company questions the studies results. No surprise as last year's recall was a disaster for the brand and such news could mean even more damage.

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