A California food producer has pulled its cashew cheese products from store shelves, as health officials investigate possible links to a Salmonella outbreak that has sickened 15 people so far and sent three to hospitals.
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) on Dec 31 warned people not to eat cashew cheese products made by The Cultured Kitchen, a company based in West Sacramento, Calif., because they may be contaminated with Salmonella. The CDPH said 12 of the illnesses occurred in California and that no deaths have been reported. All of the infections have been reported from western states, it said.
Matt Conens, a CDPH spokesman, told CIDRAP News today that the outbreak strain is Salmonella Stanley 1312CAJNG-1 and that the department hasn't received any new illness reports.
Products were sold at natural food stores throughout northern California and northern Nevada and at farmers markets in Sacramento County, according to the CDPH. The recall applies to all flavors of the cashew cheese with expiration dates on or before Apr 19, 2014.
Though the products are no longer in retail stores, the CDPH said customers may still have them in their homes, and it urged people who have the recalled products to discard them or return them for a refund.
The Cultured Kitchen said in its Dec 31 voluntary recall notice that it pulled the products as soon as it was suspected that the raw materials used to make the cashew cheese might have been tainted with a strain of Salmonella found almost exclusively in Southeast Asia, where the company's cashews are sourced.
In addition to the CDPH distribution information, the company said the products were also sold at farmers markets in the San Francisco Bay area and in Reno.
Martha Framsted, a public information officer with the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health, said a Nevada patient was sick with an organism that has the same genetic fingerprint as the outbreak strain. However, she added that county health officials haven't been able to locate the patient, so it's not clear if there is a link to the recalled cashew cheese.
Dec 31 CDPH statement
Dec 31 Cultured Kitchen recall notice
Cashew cheese recalled product photos