Vita Coco aimed to put a lighter note on a media blitz that occurred this week after several media outlets reported a New York woman had found a mysterious object in a carton of coconut water. In a press release issued today, the company stated that its beverages are “delicious, refreshing, safe and most definitely ‘squid free.’”
On April 26, Barbara Kline, of Goshen, N.Y., posted to Facebook photos of what she called an “octopus looking” object found in a carton of Vita Coco. The images were shared online more than 50,000 times. Kline said she accidentally swallowed a chunk of the object and suffered persistent vomiting and diarrhea.
Kline said she is seeking a lawyer, but she is not worried about money, she just wants answers.
“If the company stands by their products and they’re supposed to be all natural with no preservatives, then stuff like that shouldn’t occur at all,” she said.
While many publications compared the object to a squid, Vita Coco said in the press release the company is confident it is mold.
“It is highly unlikely what this consumer claims she found in her Vita Coco poses any health risk,” said Arthur Gallego, Vita Coco’s global director of corporate communications, in the release. “Vita Coco is a preservative-free beverage made from naturally-occurring ingredients. While the consumer has yet to return the product for testing, this looks like typical food spoilage. This consumer’s product was likely left opened, improperly refrigerated or damaged, and after reviewing the images she has posted, we are confident it is mold growth.”
Vita Coco said it has investigated the lot and of about 135,000 units, Kline’s was the only reported issue. The coconut water is aseptically packaged and the product is tested by internal quality control and a third party before it is shipped to stores.
Kline spoke with BevNET today and said she is still feeling symptoms that she thinks may be connected to what she swallowed just over two weeks ago. She said she is currently in possession of the object and wants to have it tested, but she does not trust Vita Coco to produce accurate test results. She said she has not been able to make arrangements with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and no independent laboratories have accepted it.
Kline added that she is allergic to mold and wants to be sure that what she swallowed is safe.
“My health is very important to me,” Kline said. “I have two kids and all that matters is that I’m around.”
When reached for comment, a Vita Coco spokesperson referred to the press release and a New York Post story published Wednesday.
Speaking to the Post, Gallego said the company has been in constant contact with Kline and she agreed to have an insurance representative, however that visit has not occurred. Kline has also not turned the item over to a local FDA office as Vita Coco recommended.
“We want to assist Ms. Kline further but to give her ‘answers’ as she has requested, we or a credible laboratory need to test the original product and substance and what she claims she found inside it,” Gallego told the Post “It’s questionable that Ms. Kline has chosen to hold onto this product for 14 days.”