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Salmonella from cashews sickens 14

By Joe Whitworth+

06-Jan-2014
Last updated on 06-Jan-2014 at 09:45 GMT

Cashews from Southeast Asia are the suspected source of a Salmonella outbreak that has sickened 14 people.

The Cultured Kitchen of West Sacramento, California has recalled all flavors of their non-dairy cashew cheese with expiration dates on or before 19 April 2014.

The recall started after it was suspected that raw materials used in production may have been tainted with a strain of Salmonella found almost exclusively in Southeast Asia, where the company’s cashews are sourced.

Salmonella Stanley has been reported from three states. The strain is rare in the PulseNet database and has only been seen 20 times prior to this outbreak, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

One ill person identified in Utah likely acquired their infection during international travel and was excluded from the case count.

The cashew cheese was distributed in Northern California and Nevada at natural foods stores and farmers markets in the Sacramento Valley, San Francisco Bay Area, and Reno.

Cashew cheese is a non-dairy product made from raw cashews and other ingredients.

Case count

Fifteen cases of illnesses have been reported in the Western United States, with twelve in California. 25% of patients have been hospitalized from the available data and no deaths have been reported.

Illness onset dates range from 13 November to 9 December and ill people range in age from two to 77 years.

"Seven (64%) of 11 ill persons interviewed reported eating raw cashew cheese in the week before becoming ill," said the CDC. 

"Among those who had brand information available, six of these 7 ill persons reported that they had eaten The Cultured Kitchen brand raw cashew cheese or had purchased it at a retail location that sold this brand."

Cashew cheese products were sold in eight-ounce plastic containers in herb, smoked cheddar, pepper jack, habanero cilantro lime, basil pesto and white cheddar.

While the products are no longer being sold the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is concerned that consumers may still have some of these products in their homes.

A statement on The Cultured Kitchen's website said: “As our products are pulled back from natural food markets, we have set up an investigation team. Meanwhile, in order to best serve our customers, we will continue to strengthen our food safety standards and increase our diligence in sourcing our ingredients. We will inform you as soon as our products are back on the shelves and available for sale.”