Consumer Alert: Lab tests show gooey mold in ‘Vitamin Water' - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Consumer Alert: Lab tests show gooey mold in ‘Vitamin Water'

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SAN DIEGO, Calif. (CBS 8) -- A News 8 consumer alert on contaminated Vitamin Water is expanding across the country. More people are coming forward to complain about a gooey substance inside their energy drink.

"There was this blob of stuff in my mouth and it was all over my mouth and my tongue and I had to peel it off," said Los Angeles resident Saundra Santamarina. "I panicked and I looked at the bottle and there was this blob floating around in it."

"It's like something I've never seen before and the taste of it was just terrible. And it made me sick," Joel Kaufman of Pittsburgh reported to News 8 this week.

"I didn't know if it was some sort of mold that could be harmful or if it was anything animal related. I had no idea," said Brett, a Navy man from San Diego, who did not want his last named used for this report.

Saundra Santamarina poured it down the drain.

"It was like a clear solid mass and it just slid down the drain as one solid piece. It was disgusting," said Saundra.

Joel Kaufman spit it out.

"I basically, immediately started to throw up from drinking it," said Joel.

Dennis Muller of Athens, Georgia took a photo and emailed it to News 8 after finding a previous report on the CBS 8 website.

A total of four people have now complained, including Brett, who was hospitalized last year after taking a gulp of Vitamin Water that he purchased at Naval Station San Diego.

"When I walk past a clear display case where Vitamin Water is held, I literally get an ill feeling in my stomach," Brett said at the time.

Brett took his Vitamin Water to be tested at Ultimate Labs in Sorrento Valley, where they grew a sample, examined it under a microscope, and discovered mold and bacteria.

"We actually found common bacteria and mold that's found in soil and water in the environment," according to Lab Operations Technician, Lissette Silva.

Silva said the contamination could be from numerous sources, including the water used at the plant, the assembly line, or even a worker with dirty hands.

"There should be a constant process of checking to make sure that this does not happen," said Silva.

Coca-Cola is the parent company of Vitamin Water. Following a complaint, the company sent Joel Kaufman a white container and a letter with instructions on where to send it.

"They tried to ask me to send all of it but I decided to keep a little for myself in case it is something serious," said Joel.

A Vitamin Water company spokesperson emailed the following statement to News 8:

"At Vitamin Water, we are committed to offering trusted brands and high quality, great-tasting beverages. Vitamin Water does not contain preservatives and, like other preservative-free natural products (such as cheese, jelly, and iced-tea products), contact with outside air over a period of time may cause formation of an innocuous type of mold commonly found in the environment. For Vitamin Water, exposure to outside air can occur in those rare instances when the bottle is damaged in transit or the seal is otherwise compromised. We are happy to work with the consumers who have contacted the station to address their concerns, but we cannot speculate on their situations without further investigation."

Saundra Santamarina has her own opinion.

"There should be an investigation of their plant and find out what's going on in those vats or whatever they use to mix this stuff up," she said.

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