Sprout Salmonella Outbreak Grows, Spreads to 16 States

The <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/food_poisoning">Salmonella outbreak that has been linked to contaminated alfalfa sprouts has now sickened 94 people in 16 states and the District of Colombia, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reported CNN.

According to health officials, cases began coming to the surface on November 1st, with many of those falling ill after consuming alfalfa sprouts in products that originated from Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches outlets, said CNN. Also, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said that the sprouts came from Tiny Greens Organic Farm.

As we’ve reported in the past, sprouts present a unique food poisoning challenge in that they can become tainted prior to harvesting, when growing. 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. Because sprouts are often eaten raw with no additional treatment, such as cooking, which eliminates bacteria, washing sprouts does not necessarily remove bacteria because bacteria grow within the sprouts and cannot be washed away.

Over the past 15 years, at least 30 outbreaks of food poisoning have been associated with eating raw or lightly cooked sprouts, according to the FDA.

Consumers are being warned not to eat Alfalfa Sprouts and Spicy Sprouts from Tiny Greens Organic Farm of Urbana, Illinois. The FDA confirmed that preliminary results of the investigation of a multi-state outbreak of <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/food_poisoning">Salmonella infections indicate a link to eating Tiny Greens’ Alfalfa Sprouts at Jimmy John’s restaurant outlets.

The Tiny Green’s Alfalfa Sprouts and Spicy Sprouts (which contain alfalfa sprouts mixed with radish and clover sprouts) were distributed in 4 ounce and 5 pound containers to various customers, including farmers’ markets, restaurants, and groceries in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, and possibly other Midwestern states. Consumers, retailers, and others who have Tiny Greens Alfalfa Sprouts or Spicy Sprouts should discard them in a sealed container so people and animals, including wild animals, cannot eat them.

Jimmy John’s restaurants asked franchisees in Illinois, where half the illnesses have occurred, to pull alfalfa sprouts from their menu. According to the FDA, nearly all of the ill individuals sickened in Illinois ate sandwiches containing sprouts at various Jimmy John’s outlets.

The FDA advises that children, the elderly, pregnant women, and persons with weakened immune systems should avoid eating raw sprouts of any kind (including alfalfa, clover, radish, and mung bean sprouts). To reduce the chance of food borne illness, FDA advises consumers to cook sprouts thoroughly and to request raw sprouts not be added to their food.

Most persons infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts four to seven days, and most persons recover without treatment; however, some individuals may require hospitalization from severe diarrhea. Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the blood stream and then to other body sites. It can cause death unless treated promptly with antibiotics. The elderly, infants, and those with impaired immune systems are more likely to become severely ill from Salmonella infection.

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