CDC warns dried fungus is behind a multi-state outbreak in the US

According to a new food safety alert from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, dried fungus has been linked to a multi-state outbreak of Salmonella in the United States, prompting a recall of the products. Wismettac Asian Foods has voluntarily recalled dried wood ear mushrooms (aka, dried black fungus / dried fungus) and the CDC is urging consumers to avoid eating the product due to the risk of illness.

On September 24, the CDC updated an alert about a multi-state Salmonella outbreak to reveal that experts have linked it to dried fungus, a type of mushroom, sold by Wismettac Asian Foods. As of the most recent update, the CDC says that 41 people have contracted the strain of Salmonella linked to this outbreak with cases spread across 10 states. Of those cases, four people were hospitalized but no deaths have been reported.

Dried fungus, also called wood ear mushroom due to its appearance when fresh, is commonly used as an ingredient in Asian cuisine like ramen. Though the dried fungus can be purchased in many stores, this outbreak only involves mushrooms that were distributed to restaurants. Consumers won't have any of these mushrooms lurking in their pantry as a result, but it may be harder to avoid accidentally ingesting these recalled mushrooms when eating at a restaurant.

The company has published a recall notice for these mushrooms and has alerted distributors that purchased the product. Consumers are urged to ask restaurants about the source of their wood ear mushrooms before ordering a meal to ensure they don't come from Shirakiku-brand Black Fungus Kikurage products. These recalled mushrooms were sold dried in 5lb bags, according to the CDC.

As with any Salmonella outbreak, any surface that comes into contact with the mushrooms must be sanitized to avoid spreading the bacteria. Though Salmonella isn't typically deadly, it can be severe in a small percentage of patients that contract it, including young kids, the elderly, and those who have compromised immune systems.