The starter culture for a tempeh product linked to a North Carolina Salmonella outbreak that has sickened at least 60 people was produced by Tempeh Online of Rockville, MD, a spokesman from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture confirmed this morning.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has picked up the investigation, said Dan Regan, of NCDA’s food and drug division. “As a state agency, we can’t go across state lines so we work with our federal partners.”
In late April, the Buncombe County Health Department announced it was investigating and outbreak of Salmonella Paratyphi B, an unusual strain of Salmonella, in the Asheville area. The outbreak was then linked to Smiling Hara, an Asheville company that produced the the tempeh product at a shared kitchen run by Blue Ridge Ventiures.
Smiling Hara issued a recall of its tempeh and Blue Ridge Ventures voluntarily shut down operations for two weeks to conduct environmental testing. Samples taken from 100 areas in the facility all tested negative for Salmonella and the facility resumed operations last week.
Meanwhile, Tempeh Online has removed its online presence deleting its web page and Twitter account. The FDA has not released a public update of its investigation into that company and has not yet provided any pertinent traceback information to North Carolina officials. “We’re kind of waiting on them at this point to see if there is any follow up we need to do with further distribution of the product,” Regan.