The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), public health and regulatory officials in several states, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are investigating a multistate outbreak of Salmonella infections.
As of January 12, 2018, 25 people infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella I 4,,12:b:- (24 people) or Salmonella Newport (1 person) have been reported from 9 states. One more ill person infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella I 4,,12:b:- has been reported from Canada.
WGS showed that isolates from people infected with Salmonella I 4,,12:b:- are closely related genetically. This close genetic relationship means that people in this outbreak are more likely to share a common source of infection.
Illnesses started on dates ranging from May 11, 2017 to November 4, 2017. Ill people range in age from 1 year to 82, with a median age of 19. Among ill people, 19 (76%) are male. Six people (24%) report being hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.
Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback evidence indicates that Coconut Tree Brand frozen Shredded Coconut is the likely source of this multistate outbreak. This investigation is ongoing.
In interviews, ill people answered questions about the foods they ate and other exposures in the week before they became ill. Ten (63%) of 16 people interviewed reported eating or maybe eating coconut. Of these 10 people, 8 (80%) reported having an Asian-style dessert drink that contained frozen shredded coconut.
Throughout the outbreak investigation, state and local health officials have collected different food items from restaurants where ill people consumed Asian-style dessert drinks. In November 2017, laboratory testing of a sample from coconut milk made in one restaurant in New York did not identify the outbreak strain of Salmonella I 4,,12:b:-, but did identify a strain of SalmonellaNewport. This sample was from coconut milk made with Coconut Tree Brand frozen Shredded Coconut, as well as other ingredients. WGS showed that the Salmonella Newport isolated from the coconut milk was closely related genetically to a Salmonella Newport isolate from an ill person from Massachusetts who had consumed an Asian-style dessert drink.
In December 2017, officials in Massachusetts collected food items from a restaurant where that ill person had consumed Asian-style dessert drinks. One sample from frozen shredded coconut identified a strain of Salmonella that was new to the PulseNet database and has not been linked to any illnesses. This sample was from an unopened package of Coconut Tree Brand Frozen Shredded Coconut. As a result, on January 3, 2018, Evershing International Trading Company recalled all Coconut Tree Brand Frozen Shredded Coconut. The recalled product was packaged in 16-ounce plastic bags.
Officials in Massachusetts returned to the restaurant and collected more Coconut Tree Brand frozen Shredded Coconut in January 2018. On January 12, laboratory testing confirmed that samples from that frozen shredded coconut identified the outbreak strain of Salmonella I 4,,12:b:-. Laboratory testing of other samples identified several types of Salmonella bacteria, including Salmonella Javiana, Salmonella Rissen, and Salmonella Thompson. These samples were from unopened packages of Coconut Tree Brand Frozen Shredded Coconut sold before January 3, 2018. CDC is reviewing the PulseNet database to determine if the other Salmonella isolates from the frozen shredded coconut are linked to any illnesses.
Frozen shredded coconut can last for several months if kept frozen and may still be in retail stores or in people’s homes. CDC recommends that retailers not sell, restaurants not serve, and consumers not eat recalled Coconut Tree Brand frozen Shredded Coconut.