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On-trend oat milk brand Oatly expands beverage recalls following potential microbial contamination

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Trendy oat milk brand Oatly – endorsed by Oprah, Jay Z and Natalie Portman – expands range of drinks amid concerns over microbial contamination

  • Two other oat milk products were recalled due to potential microbial contamination
  • Standard Oat Milk and Chocolate Oat Milk Oatly products now join the “Barista Edition” on the download list
  • The FDA says poor commercial hygiene is to blame for the contamination
  • Oatly has skyrocketed in popularity in America in recent years and has the endorsement of Hollywood stars such as Oprah, Jay-Z and Natalie Portman.

The recall of oat milk products of the popular brand Oatly has been extended by three more items. The recall now includes the brand’s standard oat milk and chocolate oat milk. Oat milk “Barista edition” was withdrawn at the end of July.

Last month, The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that poor commercial hygiene practices at the Lyons Magnus facilities – where Oatly products are processed – allowed for potential Cronobacter sakazakii contamination.

The bacteria causes a rare infection that could be dangerous for people with weakened immune systems. No product-related infections have been reported yet.

Oatly has been at the forefront of the rise in popularity of oat milk in the US in recent years. It received support from stars like Jay-Z, Natalie Portman and Oprah, who were each part of the group that bought a stake in the company for $200 million in 2020. Last year, it reported revenue of $185.9 million — a 50 percent increase over the previous year.

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The Oatly recall came along with more than 50 other products that were also processed at the Lyon plants. Americans who have any of the recalled products at home are advised to either dispose of them or return them to the store for a refund.

The FDA did not provide details on how it became aware of the potential contamination or at which plants it occurred.

The bacterium Cronobacter sakazakii at the center of the recall can cause infections with symptoms that include fever, vomiting and urinary tract infection.

Cronobacter: A rare infection that can be dangerous for 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 reporting only two to four confirmed cases each year

It is most common and most dangerous in infants two months of age or younger

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

As a result, infected infants are likely to develop meningitis

Other symptoms that affect all those infected include fever, vomiting and urinary tract infections

Bacteria are the focus of Abbott’s baby food recall starting in early 2022

Source: CDC

While infections are rare, the FDA warns that people who are immunocompromised or part of other vulnerable populations are at the greatest risk of suffering contamination.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports two to four cases each year, though it cautions that this is likely an undercount.

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

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

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

Oatly is the best-known brand in the group. Based in Malmö, Sweden, the company arrived in the U.S. four years ago and has quickly become a favorite among younger millennials and Zoomers.

Demand for this drink was so high during its expansion into the US and Europe that it even faced a supply shortage at the beginning of its initial run.

The company reported sales of 185.9 million in 2021, up 46 percent from the previous year.

In America, it recorded 55 million dollars of these sales, which almost doubled its sales year-over-year.

Oatly has benefited greatly from the push for standard cow’s milk in recent years.

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

The brand has also gained attention from massive investors. In 2020, a group that included Blackstone, one of the largest private equity firms in the world, media mogul Oprah Winfrey, actress Natalie Portman and rapper Jay-Z made a $200 million investment in the company.

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

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