The curious case of the brie produced from nuts that prompted a multi-state outbreak – Ars Technica

The curious case of the brie produced from nuts that prompted a multi-state outbreak – Ars Technica

Some real brie cheese in Paris.
Enlarge / Some actual brie cheese in Paris.

Area of interest plant-based meals are sometimes touted for his or her well being advantages—however one which may be much less apparent is that they may also help preserve outbreaks from mushrooming.

Such was the case in a small Salmonella outbreak from late 2020 to early 2021, outlined Thursday in a study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The outbreak concerned an uncommon plant-based meals that carried uncommon micro organism. And beginning with simply two instances, well being officers may determine the supply and spur a product recall earlier than normal outbreak measures had been triggered—squashing an outbreak that would have festered throughout the nation.

The meals on the outbreak’s middle was cashew brie—a vegan brie various—and the primary two instances recognized had been in Tennessee. The 2 individuals reported consuming the identical model of cashew brie on the identical restaurant earlier than falling ailing. And medical isolates discovered they’d the identical uncommon serotype of SalmonellaS. Duisburg. Well being officers carried out complete genome sequencing of the offending micro organism and entered them right into a national repository of pathogen isolates collected for illness surveillance. There have been three genetically associated matches: two isolates from California and one from Florida.

Some preliminary follow-up decided that one of many California sufferers additionally confirmed consuming the identical model of cashew brie, whereas well being officers in Florida famous that their affected person reported following a vegan eating regimen. It was sufficient to bolster the early speculation that the vegan cheese was the offender, and state and federal well being officers started working cracking the case.

Soiled nuts

Illness detectives collected 36 samples associated to the suspect fake brie: 20 retail samples of the cheese and 16 environmental samples collected from the manufacturing facility the place the vegan cheese was made. Of the 20 retail samples, 19 had been discovered tainted with Salmonella (95 %), as was 4 of the 16 environmental samples from the manufacturing facility (25 %). Dealing with the overwhelming proof, the cashew brie maker, Jule’s Foods, issued a voluntary recall.

The Meals and Drug Administration labored with Jule’s on a traceback to nail down how the Salmonella snuck into their soft-cheese substitute. The final word supply turned out to be the product’s star ingredient: cashews. The uncooked cashews used for the cheese did not undergo a “lethality therapy” comparable to pasteurization or irradiation earlier than being processed. The FDA labored with the cashew provider to repair this.

Whereas many nuts within the US are bought as being “uncooked,” they’re typically not solely uncooked. Moderately, they undergo steaming, fumigation, or another methodology to kill off harmful pathogens. This is not all the time the case, as demonstrated by the cashew brie outbreak, but it surely typically is. As an illustration, in 2007, after Salmonella outbreaks had been linked to almonds, the US Department of Agriculture implemented a rule that Californian almonds—which account for everything of the industrial almond provide within the US—have to be handled to kill off Salmonella.

Finally, with the Salmonella pressure linked to the cashew brie samples, state and federal well being officers recognized just 20 cases across four states within the outbreak. Although 5 individuals had been hospitalized, there have been no deaths.

The well being officers famous within the MMWR report that “Fast detection, investigation, and product recall prevented extra diseases, given the detection of Salmonella in 95 % of cashew brie merchandise collected at retail places throughout this investigation.”

If, by probability, that is the primary you are studying of the existence of cashew cheese, you might be behind the occasions. It has been round for some time—in actual fact, lengthy sufficient to have sparked one other small Salmonella outbreak in 2014. That outbreak was linked to a different brand of cashew cheeseand it affected 17 individuals in three states.

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