June 21, 2018

Raw Cashew Cheese Sickened 17 with Salmonella in 2014

Raw Cashew Cheese produced by The Cultured Kitchen of California was the source of a Salmonella outbreak that sickened 17 people in three states in 2014. Cashew cheese is a non-dairy product made from raw cashew nuts. The Cultured Kitchen recalled all six varieties of raw cashew cheese with an expiration date of April 19, 2014 or earlier on December 31, 2013.

Cashew-CheeseThe patient case count by state was: California (15), Nevada (1), and Wyoming (1). Twenty percent of ill persons were hospitalized; no deaths were reported. Illness onset dates ranged from November 13, 2013 to January 3, 2014. Patients ranged in age from 2 years to 83 years. This product does have a long shelf-life and can be frozen, so if you have it in your home, do not eat it. Freezing will not destroy Salmonella bacteria. Discard or return to the place of purchase for a refund.

Attorney Fred Pritzker, who represents people sickened by contaminated food, said, “it’s unfortunate that a product that is considered a health food made people sick. These manufacturers must make sure their processes are safe and that the food they produce is wholesome and fit to eat.”

The strain of Salmonella Stanley that caused this outbreak is rare and had only been seen 20 times before this outbreak occurred. This strain is found almost exclusively in Southeast Asia, the country from which the company buys its cashews. Data from PulseNet identified cases of illness that were part of this outbreak.

The varieties of cashew cheese that were recalled were sold in eight-ounce plastic containers as herb, smoked cheddar, pepper jack, habanero cilantro lime, basil pesto, and white cheddar. Testing by the California Department of Public Health isolated the outbreak strain of Salmonella Stanley from an opened package of The Cultured Kitchen brand smoked cheddar cashew cheese collected from a patient’s home. Environmental testing on a sample of fermenting cashews at The Cultured Kitchen found Salmonella Weltevreden, but no patients were sickened with this particular strain of the bacteria.

Unfortunately, food poisoning outbreaks caused by nuts is not uncommon. In the last ten years, Salmonella outbreaks have been linked to pine nuts, peanuts, hazelnuts, almonds, and pistachios.

The symptoms of a Salmonella infection include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, fever, chills, headache, muscle pains, and blood in the stool. If you ate raw cashew cheese and suffered these symptoms, please see your doctor. Long term complications and aftereffects of a Salmonella infection can be serious, including reactive arthritis and high blood pressure.

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