California Issues Salmonella Warning for Alfalfa Sprouts

California’s Monterey County Public Health Officials are warning consumers not to eat Kowalke Family brand alfalfa sprout products.  The sprouts may be contaminated with <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/salmonella">salmonella, which can cause serious illness.  The Los Angeles firm is voluntarily recalling these products because the alfalfa sprout seeds used to produce the sprouts were found to be contaminated with salmonella.  To date, no illnesses have been associated with Kowalke Family Sprout Inc. alfalfa sprouts.

“Consumers, especially young children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems, are susceptible to serious infection when exposed to Salmonella,” said Dr. Hugh Stallworth, Monterey County Health Officer.

Kowalke Family Sprouts Inc. of Los Angeles products are distributed to retail stores, including stores in the Farmer’s Markets food chain, Whole Foods, and Gelson’s Supermarkets.

The recall includes the following sprout products:  All alfalfa, onion/alfalfa mix, cauliflower/alfalfa mix and dinner salad mix sprout products.  Affected products are in four-ounce, one-pound, and five-pound packages with product “sell-by dates” from March 4 through March 26.  The dinner salad mix is distributed in an eight-ounce package and the cauliflower/alfalfa combo and onion/alfalfa mix are distributed in four-ounce packages.  The code information is located on the front label of the packages.

Monterey County Health Department continues to advise consumers about the risk of consuming raw sprouts because conditions required for sprout growing are optimal for growing pathogens.  Bacteria need the right temperature, nutrients, and water and sprouts grow in watery, warm environments, ideal for rapid bacterial growth. 

Sprouts are usually eaten raw with no additional treatment, such as cooking, which eliminates bacteria that can cause disease and food borne illnesses.  Also, washing the sprouts does not necessarily remove the bacteria because the bacteria grow within the sprouts, so the bacteria cannot be washed away..

Salmonella is a common organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems.  Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain and cramping within 12 to 72 hours of infection.  Laboratory testing is required to determine the presence of Salmonella; additional testing can determine the specific type and which antibiotics are needed.  Generally, the illness lasts a week and most recover without treatment; however, in some, hospitalization is required because the infection may have spread from the intestines to the blood stream and other body sites.  Severe cases can result in death if not treated.

Consumers who have eaten this product and are experiencing symptoms typical of salmonella poisoning should consult their health care provider.  Also, consumers who purchased these products should immediately discard them or return them to the point of purchase for a refund.  Consumers with questions may contact Kowalke Family Sprouts Inc. at (310) 636-1924.  Further information, including pictures of the products, is available at www.cdph.ca.gov.

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