Health

Oatly among over 50 products recalled as FDA warns of potential microbial contamination

Oatly brand’s trendy oat milk – backed by Oprah, Jay Z and Natalie Portman – is among 50 drinks recalled by FDA over microbial contamination that could cause fever and vomiting

  • Oatly oat milk products have been recalled after potential bacterial contamination at a manufacturing plant
  • The FDA reports that poor commercial sanitation is to blame for the contamination
  • No cases of Cronobacter sakazakii infection have yet been reported as a result of the contamination
  • Oatly has rocketed to popularity in America in recent years, and has the backing of Hollywood stars like Oprah, Jay-Z and Natalie Portman 

Oatly oat milk is among more than 50 products manufactured by Lyons Magnus that have been recalled for potential microbial contamination.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reports that poor commercial sanitation practices at Lyons plants have allowed for potential contamination of the bacteria Cronobacter sakazakii. The bacteria causes a rare infection that could be dangerous to immunocompromised people. There are no reported infections tied to the products yet.

Oatly has been at the forefront of a surge of popularity of oat milk in the U.S. in recent years. It has received backing from stars such as Jay-Z, Natalie Portman and Oprah who were each a member of a group which purchased a $200 million stake in the company in 2020. It reported $185.9 million in sales last year – a 50 percent increase from the previous year.

Americans that have any of the 53 recalled products at home are advised to either dispose of them or return them to a store for a refund.   

Oatly oat milk is among the 53 products included in the recall of Lyons Magnus manufactured products. Poor commercial sanitary conditions are blamed for the potential Cronobacter sakazakii bacterial exposure (file photo)

The FDA did not give details as to how it became aware of the potential contamination and at which plants it occurred.

The Cronobacter sakazakii bacteria at the centers of the recall can cause infections which has symptoms that include fever, vomiting and a urinary tract infection.

While infections are rare, the FDA warns that people who are immunocompromised or a part of another vulnerable population are at most risk of suffering from the contamination.

Cronobacter: A rare infection that can be dangerous to infants and the elderly

Cronobacter bacteria can be found in many dry foods – but not exclusively

Infections caused by the bacteria are rare, with the CDC only reporting two to four confirmed cases each year

It is most common, and most dangerous in infants aged two-months or younger

The elderly or people with severe vulnerabilities are also at risk of severe symptoms or death from the infection

Infected infants are likely to develop meningitis as a result

Other symptoms that affect all who are infected include fever, vomiting and a urinary tract infection

The bacteria is at the center of the recall of Abbott baby formula from early 2022 

Source: CDC 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports between two to four cases every year, though warns this is likely an undercount.

Infants are among the group most at risk from the infection. The recall does not include Lyons Magnus-manufactured products intended for infants. 

It is the same bacteria famously at the center of the Abbott baby formula recall that sparked a shortage that has struck the nation in recent months.

The recall also includes Pirq protein products, Stumptown cold brew coffees, and Glucerna meal replacements designed for diabetics, among others.

Oatly is the most recognizable brand in the group. The Malmo, Sweden-based company arrived in the U.S. four years ago and quickly became a favorite among younger millennials and zoomers.

Oatly did not immediately responded to a DailyMail.com request for comment. 

Demand for the drink was so high upon its expansion into the U.S. and across Europe that it even faced supply shortages early in its initial run.

The company reported 185.9 million in sales in 2021 – a 46 percent jump from the previous year.

It registered $55 million of those sales in the Americas, nearly doubling revenue year-over-year.

Oatly has benefited greatly from a push against standard cow milk in recent years. 

It comes as part of increased concerns about lactose intolerance in the population and environmental concerns surrounding the dairy industry. 

The brand has earned attention from massive investors as well. In 2020, a group that included Blackstone, one of the world’s largest private equity firms, media mogul Oprah Winfrey, actress Natalie Portman and rapper Jay-Z plunged a $200 million investment into the company.

Progressive New York Rep Alexandria Ocasio Cortez has also promoted oat milk as a climate-friendly alternative to cow’s milk.

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