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Even large companies get it wrong!

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    Posted: 22 Jun 2014 at 6:19pm

I have a particular interest in fermented foods and the faults associated with them.

On the 18th May I reported buying natural yoghurt, made from whole milk, that was grainy and lumpy. This stirred yoghurt was locally produced and used milk from a single herd. Regretfully no one in my family will now eat yoghurt from this company. I knew of the company and was able to discuss the problem with the staff involved. It was quite clear that they knew they had a problem.

Regretfully, the replacement natural yoghurt (skimmed milk) product made by a much larger company with headquarters in mainland Europe also has similar problems. A product purchased with a use before date of the 24th June also exhibited grainy and lumpy texture. Again this fault would have been obvious to the production staff but the product was still  released.

Images (figures 1 and 2) illustrating the fault are shown below.

Figure 1. Grains/small lumps in a spoonful-of-yoghurt

Yoghurt with faults

Figure 2. Another image of the faulty product

It is always interesting to see how companies respond to problems. No one answered the contact phone number given on the carton. I also completed a web form on the company website and attempted to contact their PR company using the information on their website. The contact information was not correct however I managed to get the correct information from their website.  I eventually got a response of sorts from the website form.

This was an enlightening experience and one that revealed a host of management issues around the operation of this company.

Grainy/lumpy stirred yoghurt is nothing new. Small companies often pump yoghurt with this problem through 'strainers' and sell this product to less-demanding customers. Companies that have some technical support tend to adjust the heat treatment of the milk, the incubation temperature and the starter-inoculum rate and come up with a combination that let's them limp on to the next problem episode. There are proactive solutions to problems like this!

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