A Salmonella outbreak linked to cashew brie highlights the importance of a manufacturing “kill step” for ready-to-eat (RTE) products made from nuts, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The 2021 outbreak linked to Jule’s brand vegan cheese made from cashews sickened 20 people in four states. Five people were hospitalized.
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Why a Kill Step is Key
In food manufacturing, the kill step is the point where any pathogens that might be in the product are removed. This can be accomplished through the use of cooking, pasteurization, or the use of chemicals. Nuts are frequently contaminated with Salmonella and that can result in tainted ready-to-eat products such as cheese or peanut butter if a kill step isn’t used in manufacturing.
What the Study Found
In this outbreak, four strains of Salmonella were linked to illnesses –Salmonella Typhimurium, Salmonella Urbana, Salmonella Duisburg, and Salmonella Chester. Of the 19 patients interviewed by health officials, 15 said they had eaten cashew brie before becoming ill.
State and federal investigators collected retail products and environmental swabs from the manufacturing facility. Nineteen of the 20 product samples tested positive for Salmonella as did four of 16 environmental samples. Whole genome sequencing showed the Salmonella samples from the cheese and the patients were very similar.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reviewed the production process and discovered no kill step was used. The agency contacted the cashew supplier to make sure no potentially contaminated cashews were on the market.
“The lack of a lethality treatment for component ingredients can increase the risk of contamination in products that are served ready-to-eat and perceived as safe by the public,” CDC researchers state in the conclusion of the report.
Contact a Salmonella Lawyer
If you or a family member developed a Salmonella infection from contaminated cashew brie and would like a free consultation with an experienced Salmonella lawyer, please contact the Pritzker Hageman Salmonella Legal Team. We have represented clients in every major Salmonella outbreak in the U.S. You can reach us by calling 1-888-377-8900, sending a text to 612-261-0856, or by completing the form below. There is no obligation and we don’t get paid unless we win.