According to an update from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), since Jan. 1, 2014, four people from four states are reported to be infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Braenderup linked to recalled peanut and almond butter products. The bacteria were found during inspections of the manufacturing facility in Ashland, OR. The number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows: Connecticut (1), Iowa (1), Tennessee (1) and Texas (1). One ill person has been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported. Illness onset dates range from Jan. 22, 2014, to May 16, 2014. Ill persons range in age from 3 years to 83 years, with a median age of 36 years. Seventy-five percent of ill persons are female. To date, three of the four ill persons were interviewed and answered questions about foods eaten and other exposures during the week before becoming ill. All three of them reported eating peanut or almond butter, and all three reported eating a brand of peanut or almond butter produced by nSpired Natural Foods Inc. Collaborative investigation efforts by state, local, and federal public health and regulatory agencies indicate that almond and peanut butter manufactured by nSpired Natural Foods Inc. in Ashland, OR, is the likely source of this outbreak. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) isolated the same strain of Salmonella Braenderup from environmental samples collected from the nSpired Natural Foods facility during routine inspections in January and July 2014. The products were recalled on Aug. 19. A list of all the recalled peanut and almond butter products, including Safeway, Arrowhead Mills, Kroger, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and MaraNatha brands, can be found here. CDC recommends that consumers do not eat any of the recalled almond and peanut butter products and discard any remaining products. These products have a long shelf life and may still be in people’s homes. Nut butters are popular as an inexpensive and convenient protein source, so they are often distributed through food banks, which are now having to dispose of large quantities of the nut butters involved in this recall. Salmonella infections can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. After exposure to the bacteria, it take take several days to develop symptoms, and the illness usually runs its course within a few days. According to CDC, Salmonella bacteria are usually transmitted to humans by eating foods contaminated with animal feces. Contaminated foods usually look and smell normal. Contaminated foods are often of animal origin, such as beef, poultry, milk, or eggs, but any food, including vegetables, may become contaminated. Thorough cooking kills Salmonella. Food may also become contaminated by the hands of an infected food handler who did not wash his or her hands with soap after using the bathroom.

  • MrMcFritters

    Am I the only one who thinks there is a story behind this story? Per the CDC web site, the illnesses were identified as follows: (1) FDA took environmental samples in January and found salmonella. (2) FDA sampled again in June, and using PFGE linked the second set of samples to the first. Then, (3) using PulseNet, they found records of 4 illnesses with similar PFGE signatures, and then, using whole genome sequencing, tied the samples more or less irrefutably to the illnesses.

    So the epidemiology story isn’t that all three ill people interviewed ate the nut butters — that was icing on the cake. The story is that the FDA was able to reverse the outbreak investigation process. Rather than trace an illness back to a source, they were able using whole genome sequencing to trace environmental samples taken from a plant to illnesses.

    I may well have missed it, but I’ve not seen that trick demonstrated before, and if it becomes commonplace the implications are quite significant, I think.

    • Guest

      PFGE did what it was put in place to do, which is to help link illnesses before reaching the level of a massive outbreak where patient interviews were the primary tool to discern the source. This was likely a routine inspection of a food manufacturing facility as part if the existing regulatory framework. The process worked here. They detected contamination with the environmental sampling rather than the nation having to wait for the facility to become dirty enough to contaminate the peanut butter at the scale of the ConAgra Peter Pan outbreak, the Sunland outbreak or PCA outbreak. These manufacturers are not seeming to learn from their competitors and tightening up practices at their facilities.

    • Sharcery

      Does this mean we need to start cooking our peanut and almond butter.
      I guess cookies would work.

      • Fred Jewett

        To achieve a 5 log reduction of Salmonella in PNB requires at least 50 minutes at 194F. This is a much longer thermal exposure than cookies and other baked goods receive. What may become necessary is to heat treat (pasteurize) the PNB before packaging, rather than reliance on the roasting step for controlling enterics. Most of the recent outbreaks in PNB seem to be related to post-process contamination, not under roasting. Fred J. CFS

        • abracadeborah

          Greetings Fred! I have recently acquired 3 jars of almond butter from a local food bank. If i made carrot cake muffins with this almond butter, heating it to 350 for 30 minutes (and being thorough with cleanup of cooking surfaces and utensils) am i likely to get sick? I willingly ate a muffin 5 minutes ago…

  • mim

    I am also recovering from salmonella after eating Trader’s Joe peanut butter. I am still struggling after 14 days!

    • JG

      What were your symptoms? I bought Costco almond butter and have been ill several times with cramps, diarrhea, nausea and vomitting but I figured it was just flu. I received a letter in the mail from Costco last week. Last time I was ill was 8/8/14. Thanks.