The E. coli Outbreak: As of June 9, 2014, the CDC reports a total of 17 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O121 (STEC O121) have been reported from five states. The number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows: Idaho (3), Michigan (1), Montana (2), Utah (1), and Washington (10). 47% of ill persons have been hospitalized. No ill persons have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), and no deaths have been reported.
Public Health Warning: Raw clover sprouts have not been recalled from Evergreen Fresh Sprouts. Because contaminated sprouts may still be available on the market, CDC recommends that consumers do not eat any raw clover sprouts produced by Evergreen Fresh Sprouts. The Washington State Department of Health and the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare are also advising people not to eat raw clover sprouts produced by Evergreen Fresh Sprouts.
Product Traceback: Epidemiology and traceback investigations conducted by local, state, and federal officials indicated that contaminated raw clover sprouts produced by Evergreen Fresh Sprouts, LLC of Idaho are the likely source of this outbreak. In interviews, 12 (86%) of 14 ill persons reported eating raw clover sprouts in the week before becoming ill. As part of the ongoing investigation, FDA performed a traceback analysis and determined that Evergreen Sprouts, in the timeframe prior to the outbreak, supplied sprouts to seven restaurants at which 9 people who became ill during the outbreak reported eating before they became ill. Eight of the people who became ill recalled eating sprouts. This analysis used documents collected directly from the distributors and the grower, Evergreen Fresh Sprouts, as well as documents collected by the states from the points of service.
Environmental Investigation: The FDA also conducted an inspection of Evergreen Fresh Sprouts’ facility on May 22-23, 2014; May 27-30, 2014; and June 6, 2014. During the inspection, FDA investigators observed a number of unsanitary conditions, including condensate and irrigation water dripping from rusty valves; a rusty and corroded mung bean room watering system; tennis rackets that had scratches, chips, and frayed plastic” used to scoop mung bean sprouts; a pitchfork with corroded metal being used to transfer mung bean sprouts; and a squeegee with visible corroded metal and non-treated wood being used to agitate mung bean sprouts inside a soak vat.
Past Problems at Evergreen Sprouts: Also, according to CDC, from April 12 to July 5, 2011, a total of 25 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Enteritidis have been reported from five states. Results of the investigation indicate a link to eating alfalfa sprouts and spicy sprouts manufactured by Evergreen Fresh Sprouts. On July 1, 2011, Evergreen Fresh Sprouts LLC of Moyie Springs, Idaho, announced a recall of specific lots of alfalfa sprouts and spicy sproutsbecause these products have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.