The number of people sickened by a rare strain of salmonella linked to unpasteurized tempeh has risen to 60, Food Safety News reports.
The tempeh, a fermented soy bean product that comes in several flavors, was made by a small local producer, Smiling Hara, in Asheville, N.C. The outbreak strain is Salmonella Paratyphyi B, which can cause severe symptoms. Seven people have been hospitalized so far.
Steps have been taken to limit the public's exposure to the product, which includes soy, black bean and black-eyed pea tempeh:
Smiling Hara temporarily halted production and recalled all its tempeh made between January 11 and April 11 with best-by dates of July 11 through October 25.
According to The Asheville Citizen-Times, investigators now believe that an ingredient used to make the tempeh, which Smiling Hara bought from a Maryland distributor, may be to blame. More than 30 stores and restaurants in and around Asheville carried various Smiling Hara tempeh product.
Investigators also say cross-contamination is likely contributing to the outbreak. Buncombe County's health director Gibbie Harris tells the Citizen-Times that some recently sickened people were possibly exposed at the same time to the bacteria at parties or similar gatherings.
With the new reports of sickenings, the total number of affected parties has rised by 30 percent over the last weekend. Surges in diagnoses, Harris said, are typical in outbreaks: "It is going to take a bit of time before this tapers off."