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Scientists Find 5 Types of Mold in Capri Sun Drink

TERRA HAUTE, Ind.—New research conducted at Indiana State University has discovered five different types of mold in the popular kids’ drink, Capri Sun manufactured by Kraft. The research project was initiated after reports of other fungal mats found in the fruit drink.

According to Kathleen Dannelly, associate professor microbiology, she believes the culprit is the fact that the beverage does not contain any preservatives, which allows lots of fungi to survive the drink process.

She became interested in researching the drink after a television reporter contacted her regarding an object found in a package of Capri Sun by a Terre Haute family. "A father had brought it to him and was very upset about what was this large ugly thing in his child's drink," she said. "So we took it from there and determined it was a fungal mat." Further investigation found other online reports of other fungal mats found in Capri Sun.

Dannelly recruited senior biology major Leah Horn from St. Louis to conduct the research. Horn has spent the past year filtering Capri Sun through a vacuum and seeing if any fungal microbes remained behind and grew on filter paper. She found five—three from the tropical punch flavor, one from the Roaring Waters flavor and one from the fruit punch flavor.

"They are all five different species. We're not 100% sure which ones they are," she said. "We're still testing."

Kraft operates a website answering questions concerning mold found due to breaches in packaging and a lack of preservatives in the drink. The company has assured worried consumers that the fungi are not harmful to humans.

"The significance of this is that for the majority of people, other than being grossed out when you open a package and it has a large fungal mat, which is a really nasty looking thing, it will probably not hurt you," Dannelly said. "However, in patients who are immune-compromised and some other underlying diseases, this could create a health concern for them."

Dannelly and Horn next plan to test the theory that the fungal mats grow in compromised packages. "We're just going to puncture these Capri Sun packages and see if there are spores already in there, which we think is already the case, and see if we can get those mats to grow," Horn said.

Dannelly said their theory is that a gas put into the packages removes oxygen, which the fungi need to grow.

"Maybe what happens is that the package just gets breached enough, not a big hole, a tiny pin hole that's enough to let air and oxygen in so that gives fungi room to grow, what they need to grow, then you get fungal mats," she said. "Maybe that's why it's only occasionally there's the large growth of an organism."

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