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Salmonella outbreak linked to nut butter; cases reported in New Jersey, 8 other states

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Eleven people in nine states have become infected with salmonella believed to be linked to nut butter spread, federal health officials said Thursday. The individuals began feeling ill between July 18 and October 15.

There have been no deaths or hospitalizations.

Symptoms of salmonella include abdominal cramping, diarrhea and fever that begins about 12 to 72 hours after a person is exposed to the bacteria. Most people recover in four to seven days.

The youngest patient identified in this outbreak is 1, and the oldest patient is 79, the CDC said in its formal announcement of the outbreak.

Oregon has reported three cases while California, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, North Carolina and New Jersey are each reporting a single case.

Health officials interviewed eight of the patients and found all of them had consumed nut butter or nut butter spread in the week before illness. Six of them reported eating JEM Raw nut butter spread.

On Wednesday, the Oregon based health food company JEM Raw Chocolate, LLC announced a voluntary recall of its full line of nut butter spreads because of potential contamination. They are sold nationally in stores and online. Anyone with these products that were distributed between June and November should throw them out or return them to the point of purchase. The company is asking retailers to pull these products from their shelves.

Jen Moore, CEO of JEM Raw, said none of their products has tested positive for salmonella. “We are taking these steps because consumer safety is our top priority,” she said.

Health officials have identified Salmonella Paratyphi B variant L(+) tartrate (+) as the type of salmonella in this outbreak. This is the same type of salmonella found in an outbreak linked to raw tuna earlier this year; however, the outbreaks are not connected.

The CDC estimates there are 19,000 hospitalizations and 380 deaths each year in the United States from salmonella.

The CDC and FDA are working with state and local health officials to investigate this outbreak and confirm the source of the outbreak.