Since 1996, there have been nearly 40 reported outbreaks of foodborne illness associated with different types of raw and lightly cooked sprouts. Most of these outbreaks were caused by Salmonella and E. coli. Here are a few that we have been involved in:
And, now there is another one. According to today’s report from the CDC, between November 1 through December 27, 2010, 94 individuals infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella serotype I 4,,12:i:- have been reported from 16 states and the District of Columbia. The number of ill people identified in each state with the outbreak strain is as follows: California (1), Connecticut (1), District of Columbia (1), Georgia (1), Hawaii (1), Iowa (1), Illinois (51), Indiana (9), Massachusetts (1), Missouri (17), New York (1), Pennsylvania (2), South Dakota (1), Tennessee (1), Texas (1), Virginia (1), and Wisconsin (3). Collaborative investigative efforts of local, state, and federal public health and regulatory agencies have linked this outbreak to consumption of Tiny Greens Organic Farm’s Alfalfa Sprouts and Spicy Sprouts. The sprouts were distributed to Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, and Missouri, and may also have been distributed to other Midwestern states. Approximately half of the illnesses occurred in Illinois, where many of the ill individuals ate sandwiches containing sprouts at various Jimmy John’s outlets. Jimmy John’s restaurants have voluntarily suspended serving sprouts at their Illinois franchise locations.
The FDA has been warning producers and consumers for over a decade about the risk of sprouts – “Guidance for Industry: Reducing Microbial Food Safety Hazards For Sprouted Seeds.” In facts, both the FDA and CDC have repeatedly posted this: REMINDER for high risk populations: CDC and FDA recommend at all times that persons at high risk for complications from Salmonella infection, such as the elderly, young children, and those with compromised immune systems, not eat raw sprouts. For such persons who continue to eat sprouts, FDA recommends cooking them.
Here is a bit of a primer on a Salmonella Infection: