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FDA: Chobani Products May Have Sickened More Than 89 People

TWIN FALLS, Idaho (CBSNews) -- The Food and Drug Administration said that at least 89 people have fallen ill after eating tainted Chobani Greek yogurt products.

TWIN FALLS, IDAHOThe Food and Drug Administration said that at least 89 people have fallen ill after eating tainted Chobani Greek yogurt products.

FDA spokeswoman Tamara Ward told The Times-News on Monday that some have described nausea and cramps.

The items in question were distributed from the company's factory in Twin Falls, Idaho.

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While the people who fell ill ate the Chobani products, no link has been confirmed between the illnesses and the yogurt. However, Ward says the FDA is working with Chobani to hasten its voluntary recall, which was initiated because of reports of product bloating and swelling, as well as some claims of illness.

Chobani last week told grocery stores to destroy 35 varieties of yogurt reported to have been contaminated by a mold associated with dairy products called mucor circinelloides. The mold was found in approximately 5 percent of the Chobani items, according to the company. The affected yogurt cups have the code 16-012 and expiration dates between Sept. 11 and Oct. 7.

"We won't sugar coat it --- this type of mold is not pleasant," the company said in a statement. "While unlikely to have ill health effects upon consumption, nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of our consumers, and we are taking all of the necessary steps to uphold our very rigid quality standard."

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Randy Worobo, a professor of food science in Cornell University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, said on the Chobani site that the mold in question can cause spoilage like swelling and bloating in yogurt, but it is not considered a disease-causing organism.

"This mold should not pose a health risk to most consumers," he assured. "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."

Health officials have also said the yogurt is not a public health threat, but the company said last week the "mold can act as an opportunistic pathogen for those with compromised immune systems."

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