Sprouts Linked to Canadian Salmonella Outbreak

Sprouts are in the news again for a potential <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/salmonella">Salmonella contamination. It seems onion and alfalfa sprouts are the likely suspects in spreading a rare Salmonella subtype that has sickened 12 people in Canada. The illnesses affected people in Ontario and Alberta, specifically, and have been reported since April, said the Canadian Cattlemen.

On August 9, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) issued a health hazard alert for the Brantford, Ontario firm of Sprouts Alive and Sunsprout brand onion sprouts and mixed onion/alfalfa sprouts, said the Canadian Cattlemen. Sunsprout Natural Foods distributed the affected sprouts.

According to the CFIA, no confirmed illnesses have been linked to consumption of the sprouts; however, Sunsprout initiated a voluntary recall of the involved sprout products bearing best-before codes up to and including August 27, reported the Canadian Cattlemen. Ontario’s health ministry did say that “a few” people who have fallen ill allegedly reported eating sprouts, said the Canadian Cattlemen, citing a release made public last week.

Also, the federal Public Health Agency reported that seven cases—to date—of Salmonella Cubana have been reported in Ontario and five more in Alberta based on the known date of illness, with illnesses beginning between mid-April and late July, said the Canadian Cattlemen.

The recalled sprouts were distributed in Ontario and the Maritimes, said the CFIA, according to the Canadian Cattlemen, which noted that the recalled sprouts were possibly sold in Quebec. The rare Salmonella subtype in all these cases is Salmonella Cubana, which the health ministry said is typically confirmed only a couple of couple of reported cases in Ontario annually, reported the Canadian Cattlemen.

Sprouts present a unique food borne contamination 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.

Of importance, 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.

Salmonella is an 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. In rare circumstance, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis.

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