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Chobani partners with Cornell on research

Carol Ryan Dumas

Capital Press

Chobani gives Cornell University $1.5 million to promote innovation in dairy and food science. The gift will establish a research and training program for graduate students along with work force development in dairy quality. The gift comes a little over a month after Chobani issued a voluntary recall of Chobani Greek yogurt that was contaminated with mold at its Twin Falls, Idaho, plant.

Chobani Greek Yogurt, with processing plants in New Berlin, N.Y., and Twin Falls, Idaho, is partnering with Cornell University to promote innovation in dairy and food science through a $1.5 million gift to the university.

A press release from Chobani states the partnership is an important step in elevating the broader dairy industry and New York state’s role as a leader in Greek yogurt and reinforces Chobani’s continued focus on quality.

In addition, the company has appointed Alejandro Mazzotta vice president of global quality, food safety and regulatory affairs.

Calls and emails to Chobani were not returned by deadline.

Both announcements come a little over a month after consumer complaints and reports of illness tied to consumption of Chobani’s Greek yogurt led to a voluntary recall by the company.

Consumers, however, registered anger and frustration on Chobani’s Facebook page and on Twitter over the company’s slow response to complaints, which began in late August.

Initially, the company said it was investigating complaints of off product and bloated containers and asked retailers to remove product from store shelves but issued no recall or public alert. The voluntary recall didn’t come until nearly a week after complaints started rolling in.

Chobani later identified the problem as contamination at its Twin Falls plant — which began production in November 2012 — stating the culprit was a mold common in the dairy environment and was unlikely to cause any ill health effects.

Chobani’s gift to Cornell will establish a research and training program that will support graduate student research along with work force development in dairy quality, Chobani stated.

Cornell’s Department of Food Science is one of the leading programs of its kind globally and matches Chobani’s mission to bring better food options to everyone, Chobani President and CEO David Denholm stated in the release.

The appointment of Mazzotta, with more than two decades of leadership in microbiology, food science and compliance, furthers Chobani’s commitment to food innovation and quality, he said.



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