By Cassie B.
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A popular oat milk from the trendy Oatly brand has been recalled due to potential microbial contamination as part of a wider recall of more than 50 products that are manufactured by Lyons Magnus.

According to the FDA, poor commercial sanitation practices at the company’s plants have allowed the drink to potentially become contaminated with the bacteria cronobacter sakazakii.

A statement by Lyons Magnus released through the FDA noted: “Preliminary root cause analysis shows that the products did not meet commercial sterility specifications.”

There have not been any reports of illnesses related to the recalled goods. The recall was voluntary, and it is unclear how the company became aware of the contamination.

Cronobacter can live in dry places and is often found in dry foods. Symptoms of infection with the bacteria include vomiting, urinary tract infections and fever. Although infections are rare, the FDA warned that immunocompromised people and others in vulnerable populations, such as those with HIV or organ transplant recipients, have a higher risk of being infected.

Infants are at particular risk, and they could develop meningitis as a result of their infection, although the company noted that none of the recalled products are intended for babies. Cronobacter is the same bacteria that spurred the recall of Abbott baby formula earlier this year.

Oatly’s Oat Milk Barista Edition is one of the items named in the recall. The oat milk is marketed as being highly foamable, which means that unlike many other types of oat milk, it can be used for “latte art”. It also doesn’t separate when mixed with hot drinks like coffee or tea, according to the manufacturer.

Some of the other products involved in the recall include Stumptown cold brew coffees, Perq protein products, Glucerna diabetic meal replacements, Imperial drink cartons and Aloha plant-based protein cartons. A full list can be found in the company’s press release.

Those who have any of the recalled products should either throw them away or take them back to the store where they were purchased for a refund. They should not be consumed under any circumstances.

Oatly is currently one of the most popular oat milks in the U.S., thanks in no small part to backing from celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, Jay-Z and Natalie Portman, who were all part of a group that bought a $200 million stake in the firm in 2020. Last year, they reported sales of $185.9 million, which marked a 50 percent rise over the year before.

Oatly’s popularity may be short-lived

When it first expanded to the U.S. and across Europe, demand for Oatly was so high that it encountered supply shortages. However, the Swedish-based plant milk producer has been dealing with bottom line losses and recently cut its sales outlook by $90 million.

On August 2, they cited several factors for the downgrade when they released their second quarter numbers, including the war in Ukraine, supply chain constraints, foreign currency rates and inflation. CEO Tony Petersson suggested that consumer interest in switching to plant-based milks has been slower than expected.

He explained: “However, we believe the macroeconomic uncertainty has impacted the speed at which we are able to expand our distribution footprint in foodservice and new markets, and the pace at which we have been able to convert new consumers from dairy to plant-based milk is taking longer than we had hoped for and we expect this to continue for the remainder of the year.”

Fans of Oatly who are concerned about their food safety practices might consider making their own oat milk moving forward for greater peace of mind. It’s simple to do: just mix your favorite organic oats with filtered water in a blender and strain for a quick, easy and natural plant milk.

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