A New York firm—Alfa Sprouts Inc. of Honeoye Falls—has issued a recall for potentially contaminated alfalfa and clover sprouts. The sprouts are possibly tainted with the dangerous, sometimes deadly, Listeria monocytogenes pathogen, said the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA).
Approximately 100 pounds of the Springwater Sprouts brand Organic Alfalfa Sprouts and Clover Sprouts are involved in the recall:
- Alfalfa Sprouts: Packaged in clear clamshell packages containing 4-ounces of Organic Alfalfa Sprouts with a sell by date of 4/28/2012. This product was distributed in New York State. UPCs: 688267047411 and 042891000523.
- Clover Sprouts: 3# Bulk containers of Clover Sprouts, with a production code of P93. This product was distributed to institutional accounts in upstate New York.
The contamination was discovered after sampling under the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Microbiological Data Program by New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets inspectors. Subsequent analysis by the New York State Food Laboratory personnel revealed the presence of Listeria monocytogenes in the product.
No illness has been reported, to date, associated with consumption of these products; however, as we’ve long explained, it is important to bear in mind that the Listeria pathogen thrives in cold environments, such as refrigerators. The Listeria pathogen also has a fairly long incubation period; up to 70 days, and well tolerates heat and dry temperatures, adding further challenges to the pathogen’s eradication.
As we’ve long written, because sprouts are often eaten raw with no additional treatment, such as cooking, which eliminates bacteria, washing sprouts does not necessarily remove the bacteria that grows within the sprouts and that cannot be washed away. Over the past 15 years, at least 30 outbreaks of food poisoning have been linked to eating raw or lightly cooked sprouts, said the FDA. We’ve also long explained that sprouts present a unique food poisoning challenge in that they can become tainted prior to harvesting, when growing. Also, the 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.
As we’ve also explained, Listeria monocytogenes can lead to the listeriosis infection, which is potentially fatal and can cause high fever, severe headache, neck stiffness, abdominal cramps and pain, diarrhea, and nausea, especially in those with weakened immune systems, infants, and the elderly. Vulnerable populations, such as the developing fetus, can suffer serious central nervous system problems. The infection can also prompt premature births, or the death of the fetus via miscarriage and stillbirth; pregnant women are 20 times likelier to become infected. Listeriosis can lead to hearing loss or brain damage in newborns, and can also lead to neurological effects and cardio respiratory failure in adults.
The firm advises consumers who purchased the recalled Organic Alfalfa Sprouts or bulk 3 # Clover Sprouts, distributed by Alfa Sprouts Inc. (Springwater Sprouts) to return the product to the place of purchase for a full refund. Alfa Sprouts Inc. can be reached at 1.585.624.1234.