Frozen coconut implicated in new Salmonella outbreak

Shaved coconut
Shaved coconut

ShotbyChris / iStock

At least 25 people in nine states have been sickened by a new Salmonella outbreak linked to Coconut Tree Brand Frozen Shredded Coconut, distributed by Evershing International Trading Company of San Jose, Calif., according to an announcement yesterday from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The coconut was used as an ingredient in dessert drinks served at Asian-style restaurants and sold in grocery stores in several states, the CDC said.

Six people have been hospitalized, but so far no deaths have been reported. There is one case connected to this outbreak in Canada, the CDC said.

Earlier product recall

Evershing International Trading Company recalled all of its 16-ounce frozen coconut products on Jan 3, after Salmonella was positively identified in a sample of coconut obtained in Massachusetts. Massachusetts has been the site of 2 cases, California 9, Pennsylvania 5, Washington 4, and Colorado, Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York each reported 1 case.

Illnesses started from May 11, 2017, to Nov 4, 2017. Patients range in age from 1 year to 82, with a median age of 19. Among ill people, 19 (76%) are male.

In epidemiologic interviews, 10 (63%) of 16 people interviewed reported eating or maybe eating coconut in the week before becoming ill. Of these 10 people, 8 (80%) reported having an Asian-style dessert drink that contained frozen shredded coconut, the CDC said.

Testing various coconut drinks at different restaurants has shown evidence that both Salmonella 4,[5],12:b and Salmonella Newport could be contaminating the fruit.

"The frozen shredded coconut linked to this outbreak was used as an ingredient in Asian-style dessert drinks served at restaurants," the CDC said. "The product was also sold in grocery stores and markets in several states.

"Frozen shredded coconut can last for several months if kept frozen and may still be in retail stores or in people's homes. CDC recommends that retailers not sell, restaurants not serve, and consumers not eat recalled Coconut Tree Brand frozen Shredded Coconut."

This appears to be the first-ever Salmonella outbreak tied to coconut that the CDC has confirmed.

French formula raid

In other Salmonella news, today French authorities raided the headquarters of Lactalis, the company that sold and now recalled tainted baby formula linked to a Salmonella outbreak there.

So far, 18 babies have been hospitalized in France after drinking Lactalis formula. Dozens of others have fallen ill—with at least 35 cases in France and 1 in Greece.

According to Agence France-Presse (AFP), Lactalis has recalled its formula from 83 countries. The recall included 12 million boxes of powdered baby milk under brands including Picot, Milumel, and Celia.

See also:

Jan 16 CDC announcement

Jan 3 Food and Drug Administration recall notice

Jan 17 AFP story

This week's top reads