May 22, 2010

Alfalfa Sprouts Recalled Due To Salmonella Outbreak

A salmonella outbreak that has sickened more than 20 people in 10 states has prompted a California food company to issue a nationwide recall of alfalfa sprouts that were contaminated.

Caldwell Fresh Foods on Friday announced the voluntary recall of alfalfa sprouts manufactured under the Caldwell Fresh Foods, Nature's Choice, and California Exotic food brands.

According to the Oregon Department of Human Services, which also announced the recall Friday, Caldwell's alfalfa product was sold in 18 states in the Midwest, West and South and may have been distributed to more than 400 outlets.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 11 people in California became ill due to contaminated alfalfa, two in Nevada and two in Wisconsin. Arizona, Oregon, Idaho, Illinois, Missouri, New Mexico and Colorado each had one illness reported, said the CDC. The illnesses began between March 1 and May 2.

Salmonella can cause severe and potentially fatal infections in children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with the bacteria can experience fever, diarrhea, nausea and abdominal pain.

So far no deaths have been reported from the outbreak, but four cases have resulted in hospitalization, according to a statement released by the company.

The product was distributed to restaurants and retail stores including Trader Joe's, Wal-Mart, Numero Uno, Cardenas Markets, Kings Supermarkets, and Canton Foods, said Caldwell Fresh Foods.

The US Food and Drug Administration is investigating the outbreak in cooperation with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other state officials. Caldwell Fresh Foods is cooperating with the investigation.

Alfalfa sprouts are grown in a moist environment which heightens the chances of bacterial growth. The FDA and CDC recommend that people with higher risk of complications, such as the elderly, young children and those with weakened immune systems, not eat raw sprouts due to the risk of contamination.

This is the second large multi-state outbreak in fresh produce announced this month. The CDC said Friday that they have identified additional people sickened by an outbreak of E. coli in romaine lettuce, bringing the total to 26 people sickened in Michigan, New York, Ohio, Tennessee and Pennsylvania. Seven additional cases are suspected, the CDC said.


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