October 23, 2014

North Carolina Salmonella Outbreak Linked To Tempeh Expands

The Salmonella outbreak linked to contaminated tempeh produced by Smiling Hara of Asheville NC, continues a slow expansion. There are now a total of 87 throughout the state, an increase of four since Friday, May 18, according to the county health department. Most of the cases, 64, are in Buncombe County.

The outbreak has been linked to a rare strain of bacteria called Salmonella Paratyphi B. It’s the first time the strain has ever been detected in North Carolina, according to health officials there. When the outbreak was first announced, in late April, the illnesses were associated with the consumption of contaminated tempeh. But over time, cases also began to mount through person-to-person transmission.

Popular in Indonesia, tempeh (pronounced tem-pay) is used as a protein source in vegetarian dishes. It is made from cooked, fermented cooked soybeans using a tempeh starter. Public health investigators have determined through lab tests that the tempeh starter Smiling Hara used was contaminated.

The starter came from a Rockville, Maryland-based company called Tempeh Online. After that link was established, Tempeh Online removed its website and Twitter account. Officials from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have picked up the investigation.

Salmonella Paratyphi B has a longer incubation period than more common strains of Salmonella, the onset of illness can begin as long as 30 days after exposure. Symptoms of an infection include bloody diarrhea, stomach ache, headache, loss of appetite and gradually increasing fatigue and fever, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The firm of PritzkerOlsen is representing a victim of this outbreak.

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