FDA, CDC warn public not to eat Salmonella contaminated sprouts

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevent (CDC) are warning consumers not to eat Evergreen Produce brand alfalfa sprouts or spicy sprouts because they may contain Salmonella Enteritidis. The greens have caused 21 people to become infected with the bacteria, three of whom had to be hospitalized. The illnesses were reported in Idaho, Montana, New Jersey, North Dakota and Washington State. The agencies say that this strain of Salmonella has rarely been seen at this frequency.

A person infected with Salmonella Enteritidis usually has fever, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea beginning 12 to 72 hours after consuming a contaminated food or beverage. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most people recover without antibiotic treatment.

However, the diarrhea can be severe, and hospitalization may be required. The elderly, infants, and those with impaired immune systems may have a more serious illness. In these patients, the infection may spread from the intestines to the blood stream, and then to the other body site and can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics.

The sprouts are packaged in 4-ounce and 16-ounce plastic bags with pre-printed labels, and 1-pound bags with stick-on labels. The FDA is aware of distribution in Idaho, Montana and Washington State; however, consumers and retailers in neighboring states should check their packages to be sure their product is safe.

Consumers who have containers of the alfalfa sprouts or spicy sprouts from plastic bags labeled “Evergreen Produce” or “Evergreen Produce Inc.” should throw them away in a sealed container so people and animals, including wild animals, cannot eat them.

The FDA is investigating the contamination with the CDC and other public health agencies where illnesses have occurred. The FDA is also working with state authorities to take appropriate action to address any product that may be remaining on the market.