FDA Warns Public to Avoid Evergreen Produce Alfalfa Sprouts

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The FDA is warning the public to avoid eating Evergreen Produce brand alfalfa sprouts and spicy sprouts. The sprouts are possibly linked to 20 reported cases, including one hospitalization, of Salmonella Enteritidis in Idaho, Montana, New Jersey, North Dakota and Washington State.

The strain of S. Enteritidis is rarely seen at this frequency. This is not the same pathogen which caused the European outbreak. The European outbreak has been caused by Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O104:H4 (STEC O104:H4) infections.

Unlike the European outbreak which is associated with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure associated with Shiga toxin-producing E. coli, most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts four to seven days, and most persons recover without treatment.

Hospitalization may be required in anyone with severe diarrhea from the Salmonella infection. In rare cases, the Salmonella infection can spread from the intestines to the blood stream and then to other body sites. It can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics.

Individuals most at risk infection from the Salmonella contaminated sprouts are the elderly, infants and those with impaired immune systems.

It is advised that no one should not eat alfalfa sprouts or spicy sprouts from plastic bags labeled “Evergreen Produce” or “Evergreen Produce Inc.” Consumers, retailers and others who have sprouts in plastic bags labeled “Evergreen Produce” or “Evergreen Produce Inc.” should throw them away in a sealed container so people and animals, including wild animals, cannot eat them.

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The Evergreen Produce alfalfa sprouts are packaged in 4-ounce and 16-ounce plastic bags with pre-printed labels. They are also packaged in 1-pound and 5-pound plastic bags with stick-on labels.

The Evergreen Produce spicy sprouts are packaged in 4-ounce plastic bags with pre-printed labels and 1-pound plastic bags with stick-on labels.

Sprouts are a known source of foodborne illness. Since 1996, there have been at least 30 reported outbreaks of foodborne illness associated with different types of raw and lightly cooked sprouts. Most of these outbreaks were caused by Salmonella and E. coli.

The FDA advises that children, the elderly, pregnant women, and persons with weakened immune systems should avoid eating raw sprouts of any kind (including alfalfa, clover, radish and mung bean sprouts). To reduce the chance of foodborne illness, FDA advises consumers to cook sprouts thoroughly and to request raw sprouts not be added to your food.

Any person who think they may have become ill from eating possibly contaminated sprouts should consult their health care providers.

Consumers with questions about sprout safety should contact 1-800-SAFEFOOD.

Source
Food and Drug Administration: Press Release, June 27, 2011

CDC: Investigation Update: Outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O104 (STEC O104:H4) Infections Associated with Travel to Germany; June 23, 2011

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