After Smiling Hara of Asheville, N.C. today announced a recall of unpasteurized soybean tempeh due to possible Salmonella contamination, Blue Ridge Food Ventures, a shared-use food production facility in Buncombe County where the product is made, released a statement.
Smiling Hara, which supplies frozen tempeh to local restaurants and stores, is one of several businesses in the community that is being investigated for a possible link to the Salmonella outbreak that has sickened dozens of people in the Asheville area, according to Blue Ridge Food Ventures.
Smiling Hara is one of 20 small, local food companies that rents time and industrial kitchen space at Blue Ridge Food Ventures, the statement said. “Each of these businesses is its own legal entity and operates independent of Blue Ridge Food Ventures. Each business is inspected by the regulatory agency relevant to its product and has its own food production and safety plans.”
Smiling Hara issued the recall of 12-ounce packages of unpasteurized tempeh manufactured between January 11 and April 11, 2012 after samples collected during a routine inspection by the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services tested positive for Salmonella. Further testing is needed to determine if the Salmonella matches the outbreak strain.
“Immediately upon learning of the investigation, Blue Ridge Food Ventures temporarily halted our normal production schedule and began extensive environmental testing as a proactive, voluntary and precautionary measure,” the statement said. “This is the first time in our six-and-a-half-year history that there has been a food contamination issue among the businesses that use our facility. Blue Ridge Food Ventures was inspected on March 8 by the Buncombe County Department of Health and earned a sanitation rating of 99.5% out of 100.”
One of the safety policies required of all companies that rent time at the Blue Ridge facility is that users sanitize the kitchen and equipment before and after production, the statement said. ”Our scheduling policies for the use of the facility are designed to prevent cross-contamination. There has been no indication of any cross-contamination among the other businesses that use the facility.”