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Smiling Hara Tempeh Salmonella Outbreak


63 people in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and New York have fallen ill from a rare strain of Salmonella linked to spore culture used to make unpasteurized tempeh by North Carolina food producer Smiling Hara.

The outbreak strain of Salmonella Paratyphi B was originally thought to be a typhoidal strain, the type that causes typhoid fever, but is now known to be a less severe, non-typhoidal strain that causes gastrointestinal illness.

According to the Asheville Citizen-Times, Smiling Hara purchased the contaminated spore culture from Tempeh Online, a Maryland-based Company that has since taken down its web page and deleted all but one of its Twitter posts.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is working with state health officials to determine whether or not Tempeh Online’s contaminated culture might have been used by any other producers.

Smiling Hara has recalled all of its tempeh made between January 11 and April 11 with best-by dates of July 11 through October 25. The company promotes the probiotic traits of unpasteurized tempeh but says it has considered pasteurizing its product to avoid future outbreaks.

Always cook unpasteurized tempeh before eating it. If you have recently eaten tempeh and experienced fever, nausea, vomiting or abdominal cramps, please contact your health care provider.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this entry said the outbreak strain of Salmonella Paratyphi B was a typhoidal strain. The Salmonella Paratyphi B associated with this outbreak causes a non-typhoidal Salmonella; which means it causes symptoms that can be severe but not as severe as the other strain of Salmonella Paratyphi B, which lab tests first indicated.

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  • I am really getting into Tempeh and even started building my first Tempeh Fermentation Incubator. To see this today is alarming but I hope there are precautions to insure the quality of Tempeh and the starter. It seems very difficult to find the starter culture.