Blue Ridge Food Ventures, the shared use facility in Buncombe County, N.C., where Smiling Hara manufactured the tempeh identified as the source of the Salmonella Paratyphi B outbreak that has sickened at least 55 people, has reopened.
Blue Ridge voluntarily closed on April 26 after learning that Smiling Hara tempeh was the source of the outbreak and brought in a third-party food safety specialist to conduct environmental testing. Samples from 100 areas in the facility were tested, including 20 specifically from the Smiling Hara storage area. All of them were negative, the company said in a statement.
“Our top concern is for the protection of human health and food safety, and to allow the businesses that use the facility to return to production as quickly as possible. At no time did the N.C. Department of Agriculture nor the Buncombe County Department of Health advise Blue Ridge Food Ventures that we were under consideration as a source of the outbreak or require these aggressive measures,” the company said in a statement.
The number of businesses that rent time and kitchen space at Blue Ridge varies seasonally from 20 to 40 each month. They include caterers food trucks and push cart operators. “It was a difficult decision to halt production for these small local food production companies, but our top concern is always the protection of human health and food safety. This situation has illustrated how valuable Blue Ridge Food Ventures is to so many entrepreneurs,” the company said in the statement.
Smiling Hara was not among the businesses restarting production today.