Customer finds mold inside coconut water

@joan.er5/TikTok Miro Vrlik Photography/Shutterstock (Licensed)

‘I seriously can’t trust Vita Coco again’: Customer finds mold inside ‘shelf-stable’ coconut water package

'This happened to me with the same brand years ago.'


Jack Alban


Posted on Oct 16, 2023   Updated on Oct 17, 2023, 2:25 pm CDT

There have been a number of shoppers complaining about finding mold inside the packaging of popular products they regularly purchase, like these Kirkland apple sauce squeezable containers. Now, a Vita Coco customer says that they’ve found mold after “unboxing” a cardboard packaging for the popular coconut water brand.

Joan (@joan.er5) has uploaded a series of viral videos that have racked up millions of views delineating the eventual confirmations of her suspicions that something was afoot with the shelf-stable beverages.

She says in her first video about her experience with the brand, “OK, so I literally just opened this Vita Coco and went to go take a drink put my mouth on it and nothing was coming out. But it is clearly, it’s heavy. Like, let me show you.”

Joan then places the Vita Coco container on top of a scale, indicating that it weighs 12 ounces. The cardboard bottle displays a total weight of 11.1 ounces of beverage, which, combined with the weight of the container itself, appears to support her claim that the bottle is indeed full.

“So it’s even heavier than what it’s supposed to be cause this says 11.1 fluid ounces. You guys I’m afraid to flip this over. It is…there’s something in it. Almost looks like mold I’m gonna show you, right now,” Joan says before cutting the video to show the top of the bottle, which she grabs and holds with trepidation. “I’m so scared something dead is in here.”

She attempted to find an angle where the lighting would give viewers a better look at the contents of the bottle. “Can you see that?” she asks, referring to what looks like a gray growth inside of the bottle on camera. “It’s solid, seriously solid…Vita Coco, I don’t ever wanna buy from you again.”

@joan.er5 Vita Coco gone wrong. Watch part 2 too see what's in side 🤮 #vitacoco #mold #vomit #grossedout #coconutwater #costco ♬ original sound – Joan

In a second video, she continues to show off the mold inside of a container, before ultimately uploading a third clip in which she cuts open the packaging to reveal what was lurking beneath the spout of her Vita Coco drink.

“OK, so you guys wanted to see it,” she says, unscrewing the cap of the cardboard container on camera until she manages to pop off the spout, separating it from the rest of the paper bottle. “Ewww,” Joan groans upon looking inside.

“Oh my gosh I’m scared,” the TikToker utters as she continues to pry apart the packaging, before electing to get a pair of scissors to cut it open further. She separates two of the cardboard flaps on the cardboard bottle, before maneuvering it across the top of the packaging. When she finally opens the box, a mass of what appears to be a moldy growth is resting at the top of the drink.

“Oh that is alive,” a man can be heard saying off camera, responding to the gross revelation before him and Joan.

“That is so disgusting…that is so disgusting. There is no coming back after that, I drink that and I am, at the very least, throwing up for the rest of my life,” Joan concludes. “Oh my Gosh that looks like, I don’t, even know. That is just so nasty.”

One commenter replied that coconut water should be immediately refrigerated upon purchase. However, these particular containers, also known as Tetra Paks, are supposed to be shelf stable according to Vita Coco’s website, although they should be refrigerated after opening. “Coconut water needs to be refrigerated. Emphasis on the NEEDS or it goes bad almost immediately when it reaches room temp,” the TikTok user claimed.

@joan.er5 part 3 the unboxing 🤣🤢 I seriously can't trust #Vitacoco again. I tried to drink this! #costco #naturalhealth #organic #coconutwater ♬ original sound – Joan

Vita Coco responded to Joan’s first video in a comment that reads: “Hi there, we’re sorry that you’ve had this experience. This appears to be mold that can occur when the tetra pack is damaged in transit to you. Vita Coco is a natural product, so if the packaging is damaged and air gets into the package before you’re ready to drink it, mold can occur.”

The company reached out to Joan and offered to replace her purchase.

Another user on the app said that coconut water is best purchased from the refrigerator aisle and that shelf-stable packaging is not to be trusted. “What most people don’t know is that your not supposed to buy coconut water that’s been sold in stores out of the shelves. Get from the fridge aisle,” they suggested.

According to the Cook’n blog’s statements about the perishability of coconut water, the aforementioned TikToker’s comment is sound advice. “Pasteurizing with heat: Coconut water is very delicate, naturally perishable, and should be kept cold. Most folks don’t know this,” the blog states. “Young and unadulterated coconut water will always be found refrigerated. Notice that most bottled and boxed coconut waters are on non-refrigerated shelves.”

The Daily Dot has reached out to Vita Coco via email and Joan via TikTok comment for further information.

Update 2:23pm CT Oct. 17: In an email to the Daily Dot, a Vita Coco spokesperson attributed the mold to a damaged product:

“Every one of our products is subject to rigorous quality control testing before it leaves our facilities to ensure that it is fresh when a consumer opens it. In rare cases, shipping and handling can lead to damage. As Vita Coco is a natural product with no preservatives, this damage can impact the integrity of the beverage. In this case, it is likely this consumer purchased a damaged package, which led to oxidation that ultimately resulted in mold. As this consumer mentioned in one of her videos, the cap and seal seemed to be broken before she opened it, and while this is regrettable, this is the likely cause. When we saw this video, we reached out to learn more. Since then, we have checked the batch number and we believe this is in fact an isolated occurrence. Vita Coco upholds the highest standards regarding the production of our natural coconut water beverages and takes any quality related incidents extremely seriously.”

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*First Published: Oct 16, 2023, 2:21 pm CDT