Sprouts eyed in US Salmonella outbreak

Jun 27, 2011 (CIDRAP News) – Sprouts are the suspected cause of 20 Salmonella infections in five states, while an earlier Salmonella outbreak linked to cantaloupes is probably over, according to federal officials.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced today that sprouts labeled "Evergreen Produce" are suspected as the cause of Salmonella Entertidis infections in Idaho, Montana, New Jersey, North Dakota, and Washington. The agency said one patient was hospitalized.

An Associated Press (AP) report said the sprouts were produced by Evergreen Produce in Moyie Springs, Idaho, in the northern part of the state. The FDA said people who have alfalfa sprouts or spicy sprouts in bags labeled "Evergreen Produce" or "Evergreen Produce Inc." should discard them in sealed bags.

The alfalfa sprouts are packaged in 4-ounce, 16-ounce, 1-pound, and 5-pound bags, and the spicy sprouts are sold in 4-ounce and 1-pound bags, the FDA said.

At least 30 illness outbreaks have been linked to various kinds of raw and lightly cooked sprouts since 1996, most of them involving Salmonella or Escherichia coli, the FDA said. The agency said children, the elderly, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems should not eat raw sprouts, and consumers in general should cook sprouts thoroughly.

The earlier outbreak tied to cantaloupe involved 21 cases of Salmonella Panama in 11 states, most of them in the West. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced Jun 23 that the outbreak appeared to be over, as there had been no new case reports since Apr 22.

The investigation of the outbreak revealed that 11 patients had eaten cantaloupes purchased at eight different stores of a national warehouse club and that the cantaloupes came from single farm in Guatemala, the CDC said.

In other developments, Eagle Produce LLC of Scottsdale, Ariz., announced a limited recall of cantaloupes shipped to upstate New York in late May because of potential Salmonella contamination, according to a recall notice posted by the FDA on Jun 24.

The recall involves 1,760 cartons of cantaloupe that were sold at Sam's Club stores in Johnstown, N.Y., and Pottsville, Pa., between Jun 2 and 17, the notice said. The problem was detected in routine testing done by New York agriculture officials on behalf of the US Department of Agriculture. No illnesses were mentioned.

See also:

Jun 27 FDA press release

Jun 23 CDC notice about earlier outbreak

Jun 24 cantaloupe recall notice

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