Kratom Likely Source For Multi-State Salmonella Outbreak, CDC Says

By Victoria Kim 02/27/18

The CDC issued a statement warning people not to use kratom while health officials investigate the cause of a national salmonella outbreak.


A recent health advisory from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned Americans to stay away from kratom while it investigates a multi-state outbreak of salmonella that led to 11 hospitalizations.

Kratom is a plant native to Southeast Asia that is known for its opioid and stimulant properties. People who rely on the herbal supplement tout it as medicine, effective for relieving pain and anxiety.

“Kratom offers some of the same pain-reducing benefits of opioids, but with significantly reduced chances of addiction and related death,” wrote Dave Herman, Chairman of the Board for the American Kratom Association, in a recent op-ed for the Washington Examiner.

The CDC issued a statement last Tuesday (Feb. 20) warning that people should not use kratom while health officials investigate the cause of a national salmonella outbreak. So far, the CDC said, kratom is the chief suspect.

“Epidemiologic evidence indicates that kratom is a likely source of this multistate outbreak,” read the advisory. “At this time, CDC recommends that people not consume kratom in any form because it could be contaminated with salmonella.”

Since October, 28 cases were recorded in 20 states including California, Massachusetts, Ohio, Kentucky and Pennsylvania. The CDC counted 11 hospitalizations and no deaths.

According to the advisory, 11 of the affected individuals were interviewed, and eight of them (73%) reported consuming kratom via pills, powder or tea.

While the CDC has yet to identify the source of the tainted kratom—if kratom is indeed the cause of the salmonella outbreak—the Food and Drug Administration named one Missouri manufacturer that voluntarily recalled its kratom products and promised to stop selling kratom.

The following day of the CDC advisory, the FDA issued a new statement announcing the recall of “kratom-containing dietary supplements” manufactured and distributed by Divinity Products Distribution of Grain Valley, Missouri.

The FDA encouraged other kratom companies to do the same and “take swift action to remove these products from circulation to protect the public.” The agency has been working especially hard in the last few years to prove that kratom is a threat to public health.

“To protect the public health, we’ll continue to affirm the risks associated with kratom, warn consumers against its use and take aggressive enforcement action against kratom-containing products,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb.

In a previous statement from early February, the FDA claimed that it found evidence, using a new computational model, that certain compounds in kratom interact with the body’s opioid receptors, thus allowing the agency to come to the conclusion that “compounds in kratom make it so it isn’t just a plant—it’s an opioid.”

But kratom proponents like the American Kratom Association aren’t taking the FDA’s attacks against the herbal supplement lying down.

In his Washington Examiner op-ed, Dave Herman accused the FDA of “trying to block a naturally-occurring plant that is providing a lifeline for millions of addicted Americans.”

Please read our comment policy. - The Fix

Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr