The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have confirmed that shredded coconut was the cause of a widespread salmonella outbreak affecting nine states.
A staple health food of many plant-based and nutritious diets, shredded coconut is minimally processed and safe to consume raw. However, the particular batch of shredded coconut that was recalled on January 3 contained traces of salmonella contamination.
“Evershing International Trading Company is recalling Coconut Tree Brand Frozen Shredded Coconut, 16 oz., because they have the potential to be contaminated with salmonella,” the CDC reported in a recall notice. Salmonella infection can be fatal, especially for young children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems; however, no deaths have been reported. Twenty-five people have fallen ill and six have been hospitalized due to the infection.
Investigations were aided by several victims’ reports that they had consumed an Asian-style dessert drink at various restaurants in the weeks prior to their illness. These drinks may have contained servings of the coconut in question — one Boston restaurant was confirmed to have included the ingredient in a drink.
The coconut product was distributed in Ohio, Massachusetts, Washington, California, and Oklahoma with redistribution to Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Florida, and Texas. Consumers and restaurants in all of those states should return all sizes of Coconut Tree Brand Frozen Shredded Coconut to the place of purchase to receive a full refund.
Customers are also free to contact Evershing International Trading Company at 408-975-9660 with any questions or concerns.
At this stage, the product has been fully recalled, so it’s probably safe to eat coconut at restaurants. The food may be hard to avoid, since it’s such a popular ingredient to add texture and flavor.