Smiling Hara Tempeh investigated in North Carolina Salmonella Paratyphi B outbreak, product recalled
Posted: April 30th, 2012 - 9:36pm by Ben Chapman
As illnesses associated with a Salmonella Paratyphi B outbreak climbed to 34 today, the investigation has focused on tempeh produced by Smiling Hara. Blue Ridge Food Ventures, the shared use kitchen where Smiling Hara sets up shop put out a press release tonight stating that they are aware of the investigation, have ceased operation (and shut down processing by at least 20 other businesses).
Immediately upon learning of the investigation, Blue Ridge Food Ventures temporarily halted our normal production schedule and began extensive environmental testing as a proactive, voluntary and precautionary measure.
This is the first time in our six-and-a-half-year history that there has been a food contamination issue among the businesses that use our facility. Blue Ridge Food Ventures was inspected on March 8 by the Buncombe County Department of Health and earned a sanitation rating of 99.5% out of 100.
About 20 small, local food production companies rent time and industrial kitchen space at BRFV during any given month. Each of these businesses is its own legal entity and operates independent of Blue Ridge Food Ventures. Each business is inspected by the regulatory agency relevant to its product and has its own food production and safety plans.
Blue Ridge Food Ventures has strict safety protocols in place for the use of our physical facility and equipment. One of those policies requires that all facility users sanitize the kitchen and equipment both BEFORE AND AFTER production. Our scheduling policies for the use of the facility are designed to prevent cross-contamination. There has been no indication of any cross-contamination among the other businesses that use the facility.
Smiling Hara's website lists a variety of western North Carolina businesses where their product is sold.
Tempeh is made from a soybean paste with added vinegar. Acid-consuming mold is added (from a starter inoculum) and the pH is raised during the process above 5, which could allow for the survival and growth of Salmonella Paratyphi B. Most tempeh is sold as a refrigerated or frozen product and is often served after frying.