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CDC declares end to Salmonella outbreak linked to nut butters

JEM-nut-butters.-croppedFederal officials say a 10-state Salmonella outbreak linked to non-peanut nut butter from JEM Raw Chocolate LLC is over, but they warn that the long shelf-life of the products mean consumers could still have the in their homes.

Thirteen people have been confirmed as having developed infections from the outbreak strain of Salmonella Paratyphi B variant L(+) tartrate(+) — previously known as Salmonella Java — linked to the nut butters, according to an update from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Illnesses started on dates ranging from July 18 to Nov. 22 in 2015. Victims ranged in age from less than 1 year to 79. Of the 11 victims for whom CDC had information, none required hospitalization and none died.

Company officials at JEM Raw, based in Bend, Ore., voluntarily recalled all 12 of the company’s organic nut butters made from sprouted almonds, cashews and hazelnuts on Dec. 2. The recall came after state and federal health officials notified the company that outbreak victims had reported eating the products.

JEM Raw officials did not respond to requests for comment Jan. 15.

“All 10 ill people interviewed reported exposure to a nut butter or nut butter spread in the week before illness onset, and eight of these people specifically reported exposure to a JEM Raw brand sprouted nut butter spread,” the CDC reported.

JEM Raw distributed the recalled nut butter spreads nationwide from June through November 2015 via retail stores and mail orders. The recall includes all flavors of JEM Raw nut butter spreads with “best by” dates of Oct. 20, 2016, and earlier. The recalled nut spreads are in glass jars ranging in size from 1.25 ounces to 16 ounces, according to the recall notice.

On Dec. 2, Food Safety News reported that Jennifer Moore, CEO of JEM Raw Chocolate LLC, said all product samples tested at that point had come out negative for the pathogen.

Moore said JEM Raw has never had any problems with foodborne pathogens in five years of operation and three years of producing nut butters.

In its Jan. 15 update, the CDC warned consumers to discard unused JEM Raw nut butters even if they have been partially consumed.

“Any remaining nut butter spread should be thrown away. Even if some of the nut butter spread has been eaten and no one has gotten sick, the rest of it should be thrown away,” the CDC recommended.

People with illnesses caused by this strain of Salmonella bacteria typically experience diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after an exposure, according to the CDC in its Advice to Consumers.

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