FDA Warns Tiny Greens Sprouts Linked to Salmonella that Sickened 89

little farm - sproutsThe U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning consumers not to eat recalled alfalfa sprouts and a sprout mix from Tiny Greens Organic Farm in Illinois after the products were linked to a salmonella outbreak that has sickened 89 people in 15 states and Washington, D.C.

The alfalfa sprouts and Spicy Sprouts -- a mix of radish, alfalfa and clover sprouts -- were distributed in 4-ounce and 5-pound containers to farmers' markets, restaurants and grocery stores in Illinois, Indiana, Missouri and possibly other Midwestern states, according to the FDA. Consumers should throw them away.

The farm was linked as a possible source after authorities interviewed those sickened in the salmonella outbreak. Tiny Greens farm owner Bill Bagby Jr. told Consumer Ally in an email the products are now recalled to "err on the side of safety" even though more than 200 tests on the products and at the farm all came back negative for salmonella.Included in the recall are all packages of Alfalfa Sprouts and Spicy Sprouts with lot codes 348, 350, or 354, or having a "sell by" date of 12/29/10, 12/31/10 or 1/04/11. The farm is also recalling any product containing its alfalfa sprouts with its lot numbers of 305 through 348 or "sell by" dates from 12/16/10 through 12/29/10.

A preliminary investigation linked the sprouts served at the restaurant chain Jimmy John's -- which has more than 1,000 locations scattered across the nation -- with the salmonella outbreak. About half of those who were sickened live in Illinois, and almost all of them ate sandwiches with sprouts at Jimmy John's locations.

The restaurant chain stopped serving alfalfa sprouts on its sandwiches at all Illinois locations, the FDA said.

Bagby said "less than half" of the farm's products are sent to wholesalers servicing Jimmy John's locations and that no other restaurants or groceries reported any illnesses.

Salmonella can cause a potentially fatal infection in young children and those with weakened immune systems. Infections in otherwise healthy people can cause fever, diarrhea, nausea and abdominal pain.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said of the 81 people it has information on, all of them were sickened between Nov. 1 and Dec. 14. Illinois had the highest number of sickened consumers at 50, Missouri second with 14, Indiana nine, Wisconsin three and Pennsylvania two. The states of Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Massachusetts, New York, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Washington, D.C. all reported one case of salmonella. Of those sickened, 23% were hospitalized. The CDC said that because this particular strain of salmonella is common, some cases may not be related to the outbreak.

Consumers can protect themselves by taking a few precautions:
  • Cook sprouts thoroughly.
  • When ordering food, ask restaurants to hold the raw sprouts.
  • Children, pregnant women, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems should avoid eating raw sprouts of any kind, including clover, radish and mung bean sprouts, said the CDC.
Alfalfa sprouts have been recalled three other times this year, including in May after two dozen people were sickened by salmonella. In October, Living Foods recalled sprouts in Michigan for possible contamination. In July, Specialty Farms' alfalfa sprouts were recalled in the Northeast because of possible listeria contamination.
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