Kent County: Alfalfa Sprouts Are Potential Source Of Salmonella

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

As a precaution, the Kent County Health Department recommends that residents avoid consumption of raw alfalfa sprouts following reports that they may be linked to cases of salmonella found in southeast Michigan.

Between mid-March and early April, Michigan saw 16 confirmed salmonella cases resulting in two hospitalizations from Livingston, Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw, and Wayne Counties and the City of Detroit.


Ten of the 16 people reported consumption of raw alfalfa sprouts at sandwich shops in southeast Michigan. To date, Kent County has not seen any cases related to these illnesses. Earlier this week, the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) issued a health alert recommending that people avoid consumption of raw alfalfa sprouts until they know more about the source of the outbreak.

MDCH is working with local health departments, the Michigan Department of Agriculture, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to determine the source of the outbreak.

Alfalfa sprouts typically are eaten raw in sandwiches and salads. Past sprout-related outbreaks of foodborne illness have been linked to seeds contaminated by animal manure in the field, during storage, or as a result of poor hygienic practices in the production of sprouts. Sprouts require warm, humid conditions to grow. These conditions are ideal for the growth of bacteria.

Salmonellosis is an infection with bacteria called Salmonella. Most persons infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most people recover without treatment. The elderly, infants, and those with weak immune systems are more likely to become severely ill. If you think that you or a member of your family has a food borne illness, contact your medical provider or the Kent County Health Department (616) 632-6900.