SWEDEN – Oatly, a Swedish company specializing in dairy alternatives,  has recalled its Oatly 1-liter drink in two European countries, Finland and Estonia owing to contamination with Bacillus cereus.

The drink, made in Sweden, with a best before date of Dec. 1, 2022 and lot code 1335T4 has been on sale in Finland since late January in certain stores and online.

The company has so far received 29 complaints and two people reported stomach illness.

According to Oatly’s spokesperson, the health and safety of consumers is the company’s top priority and as such advised people not to consume the affected batch.

“We have identified a quality issue with one specific batch of Oatly Kaurajuoma 1 liter sold in Finland and Estonia, in which the bacteria Bacillus cereus has been detected. As soon as we became aware of the issue, we initiated a recall of the products potentially affected from specific stores, and began additional investigations, working closely with the relevant authorities and partners,” he said.

Oatly is taking every possible precaution and following all internal and external protocols, working to investigate the root cause and ensure that quality routines are of the highest standards.

“We have full traceability for our products, and this is not anticipated to have any impact on our product supply in general,” said the spokesperson.

The Finnish Food Authority (Ruokavirasto) and Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) have however failed to provide further details about the incident or those sick.

Oat milk is the fastest growing dairy alternative in the U.S., thanks to Oatly Group which pioneered the industry and created a global milk craze with their witty adverts.

During the pandemic, the company saw a surge in sales as consumers scrambled to buy healthier alternatives to conventional meat and dairy. This spurred on its IPO in May 2021, with a company valuation of U.S$10 billion.

Bacillus cereus

Food poisoning caused by B. cereus is an acute intoxication that occurs when this microorganism produces toxins, causing two types of gastrointestinal illness, an emetic (vomiting) syndrome or a diarrhoeal syndrome.

It is able to produce spores that are resistant to heat and desiccation, therefore it is not uncommon to isolate it from both raw and cooked foods.

The incubation period is usually between 1 to 16 hours, depending upon which type it is, and illness lasts between 12 to 24 hours. If symptoms occur between 1 to 5 hours it is likely the vomiting type, whilst the diarrhea type occurs after 8 to 16 hours.

The elderly and patients with lower stomach acidity may be more susceptible to the diarrhoeal syndrome.

  1. cereus grows in food that has been improperly stored, therefore proper food handling, especially after cooking, will help prevent illnesses caused by this microorganism.

The emetic syndrome is frequently associated with starchy food such as pasta or rice dishes while the diarrhoeal syndrome is common in foods such as meat products, stews, soups, sauces, vegetables and milk products.

In December last year, Margherita Meats Inc., an Omaha, Neb.-based subsidiary of Smithfield Packaged Meats Inc., recalled approximately 11,000 lbs of ready-to-eat pepperoni over concerns it contained Bacillus cereus.

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