Salmonella illnesses linked to nut butter spreads

By Joseph James Whitworth

- Last updated on GMT

A label of one of the affected products
A label of one of the affected products

Related tags Foodborne illness Illness Epidemiology Salmonella

Salmonella has sickened 11 people from nine states with a link identified to raw nut butter products.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other agencies are investigating the multistate outbreak of Salmonella Paratyphi B variant L(+) tartrate(+) (formerly Salmonella Java) infections.

Illnesses dates range from July 18 to October 15 and 64% are male.

Among nine ill people with available information, none have been hospitalized and no deaths have been reported.

Illness interviews

In interviews, ill people answered questions about foods eaten and other exposures in the week before they became ill.

All eight interviewed (100%) reported exposure to a nut butter or nut butter spread in the week before illness onset, and six (75%) reported exposure to a JEM Raw brand sprouted nut spread.

JEM Raw Chocolate (JEM Raw) of Bend, Oregon recalled all nut butter spreads within expiry because it has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella earlier this week.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Oregon Health Authority (OHA), Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) and CDC have linked illnesses to people who ate nut spreads, including JEM Raw products.

A recall has also been undertaken in Canada but no illnesses have been reported, said the Canadian Food Inspection Agency​ (CFIA).

JEM Raw reaction

JEM Raw recalled products in glass jars distributed nationwide in retail stores and through mail order between June and November 2015.

The firm said it is working with distributors and retailers to remove products from retail shelves.

Jennifer Moore, CEO of JEM Raw Organics, said it is working with the FDA, ODA, and OHA to determine the root cause of the outbreak.

“Although JEM Raw products have not tested positive for Salmonella, we feel strongly that issuing a voluntary recall is the right thing to do,” ​she said in a post on the firm’s website.

“Working in the healthcare industry, and with my knowledge of food safety, I was very proactive in getting the FDA involved since our inception in 2009.

“The FDA has conducted several of their own tests throughout the years, including a three day 180 swab inspection to ensure that our facilities and products were safe. From these tests, JEM Raw has come up clean every time.

“Because of our commitment to health and safety we also have a third-party lab in Portland, Oregon conduct testing on our products. We test not only for Salmonella, but also for E. coli, Listeria, molds, yeast, heavy metals, pesticides, and even gluten. We require a Certificate of Analysis on all ingredients and products that come into our factory.”

The number of ill people identified in each state is: California (1), Colorado (1), Georgia (1), Hawaii (1), Idaho (1), Illinois (1), North Carolina (1), New Jersey (1), and Oregon (3).

Other outbreak news​ 

Meanwhile, the CDC has said an outbreak of Salmonella linked to pork appears to be over after 192 people from five states were reported sickened.

Six DNA fingerprints (outbreak strains) were part of the investigation, said CDC.

Kapowsin Meats was named as the likely source of Salmonella I 4,[5],12:i:- and Salmonella Infantis infections. The firm issued two recalls of pork products in August​.

In an unrelated investigation in Canada, eight cases have been added bringing the total to 59.

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) said Salmonella Infantis illness has affected eight provinces but the source has yet to be identified​. 

The majority of cases (63%) are female and 11 people have been hospitalized, all have recovered or are recovering. Individuals became sick between March 15 and November 15. 

Related topics Food Safety & Quality

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