Health officials urge kratom vendors to pull supplement from store shelves

March 20, 2018

Multnomah County Public Health on Tuesday asked local vendors of kratom to pull the supplement from store shelves as state and federal health officials investigate a salmonella outbreak that has sickened 87 people across 35 states.

Kratom is made from the leaves of the kratom tree and is not regulated in the U.S.

“Kratom product samples from Oregon and other states have tested positive for many types of Salmonella bacteria, suggesting that many suppliers, sources, and types of kratom are contaminated with the bacteria,” Multnomah County Deputy Health Officer Dr. Jennifer Vines wrote in a notice to retailers. “If so, more people may get sick.”

One Portland retailer issued a recall for its kratom products earlier this month after being notified by the California Department of Public Health that some of its product tested positive for the Salmonella bacteria and a consumer had fallen ill. Salmonella infections usually lead to severe diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps. The elderly, infants, and people with weakened immune systems can have more severe sickness that can be life threatening.

Sixteen countries have banned the sale of kratom, a plant leaf from Southeast Asia that can produce an opioid-like effect, according to the Food and Drug Administration. The supplement is not regulated in the United States, however.

“The Health Department is focused on the risk of Salmonella associated with kratom,” Dr. Vines said in her letter to vendors in Multnomah County. “We are not looking into any other benefits or harms of using kratom.”

Vines made the following recommendations to retailers of kratom:

  • Stop selling all kratom until we know the sources of the products with Salmonella.
  • Tell all customers interested in kratom about the risk of Salmonella and the signs of Salmonella sickness.
  • Tell all customers who think they might have Salmonella to see their health care provider and to ask to be tested for Salmonella.
  • To help with figuring out which kratom products might be causing the outbreak, we always recommend keeping detailed records of kratom purchases, including
    • Brands and types of kratom sold, along with invoices
    • Lot numbers, shelf life, and use by dates
    • How products are received from the vendor, including packaging
    • Any internal processes for packaging/repackaging products
    • Sales information – customer lists, sales records, online sales records
    • Order frequency from suppliers or distributors
    • Product testing information provided by distributor

For additional information about this outbreak, visit

For other questions, contact Multnomah County Health, Communicable Disease Services at 503-988-3406.