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FDA Investigated Multistate Outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis Linked to Mung Bean Sprouts Produced by Wonton Foods Inc. of New York

January 23, 2015
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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state and local officials investigated a multi-state outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis infections.  According to the CDC, the outbreak appears to be over as of January 23, 2015.

What was the Problem and What was Done About It?

The FDA, CDC, and state and local officials investigated a multi-state outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis illnesses linked to mung bean sprouts produced by Wonton Foods Inc. of Brooklyn, New York.

The CDC reportsthat 115 people were infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Enteritidis in 12 states. Illness onset dates ranged from September 30 to December 15, 2014.  Among 75 persons with available information, 19 (25%) were hospitalized, and no deaths were reported.

Collaborative investigation efforts of the FDA, and federal, state, and local public health and regulatory agencies indicated that bean sprouts produced by Wonton Foods Inc. were the likely source of this outbreak.

Bean sprouts produced by Wonton Foods Inc. that were linked to the illnesses are likely no longer available for purchase or consumption given the maximum 12-day shelf life of mung bean sprouts.

On November 21, 2014, Wonton Foods Inc. agreed to destroy any remaining products while they conducted a thorough cleaning and sanitization and implemented other Salmonella control measures. On November 24, they had completed the cleaning and sanitation and resumed production of sprouts. The firm resumed shipment on November 29, 2014.

What are the Symptoms of Salmonella?

Most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most people recover without treatment.

How Soon do Symptoms Appear After Exposure?

Most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection.

What are the Complications of Salmonella Infections?

In some people, the diarrhea may be so severe that they need to be hospitalized. In these patients, the Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the blood stream, and then to other body sites and can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics.

Who is at Risk?

Children are the most likely to get salmonellosis. The rate of diagnosed infections in children less than five years old is higher than the rate in all other Children are the most likely to get salmonellosis. The rate of diagnosed infections in children less than five years old is higher than the rate in all other people. Children younger than 5 years of age, the elderly, and those people with weakened immune systems are more likely to have severe infections. It is estimated that approximately 400 persons in the United States die each year with acute salmonellosis. Children, older adults, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems should avoid eating raw sprouts of any kind.

What Do Restaurants and Retailers Need To Do?

Restaurants and retailers should follow the steps below:

  • Wash and sanitize display cases and refrigerators where potentially contaminated products were stored.
  • Wash and sanitize cutting boards, surfaces, and utensils used to prepare, serve, or store potentially contaminated products.
  • Wash hands with warm water and soap following the cleaning and sanitation process.
  • Retailers, restaurants, and other food service operators who have processed and packaged any potentially contaminated products need to be concerned about cross contamination of cutting surfaces and utensils through contact with the potentially contaminated products.
  • Regular frequent cleaning and sanitizing of food contact surfaces and utensils used in food preparation may help to minimize the likelihood of cross-contamination. 

What Do Consumers Need To Do? 

Like any fresh produce that is consumed raw or lightly cooked, sprouts that are served on salads, wraps, sandwiches, and other foods may contain bacteria that can cause foodborne illness. Unlike other fresh produce, the warm and humid conditions used for sprouting are also ideal for the growth of bacteria, including Salmonella, Listeria, and E. coli. Any bacteria present can multiply dramatically during the sprouting process. (Organic or locally-grown sprouts are not necessarily less risky, and neither are sprouts grown at home.) Washing sprouts may reduce risk, but will not eliminate it.

Consumers should always practice safe food handling and preparation measures. At home, keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood separate from produce and ready-to-eat foods, cook foods to the proper temperature; and refrigerate perishable foods (including sprouts) promptly. Wash hands, utensils, and surfaces with hot, soapy water before and after handling food.

For refrigerators and other food preparation surfaces and food cutting utensils that may have come in contact with the potentially contaminated sprouts, it is very important that the consumers thoroughly clean these areas and items.

Consumers should follow these simple steps:

  • Wash the inside walls and shelves of the refrigerator, cutting boards and countertops; then sanitize them with a solution of one tablespoon of chlorine bleach to one gallon of hot water; dry with a clean cloth or paper towel that has not been previously used. 
  • Wash hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food.
  • Wipe up spills in the refrigerator immediately and clean the refrigerator regularly.
  • Always wash hands with warm water and soap following the cleaning and sanitization process. 
  • Children, older adults, pregnant women, and persons with weakened immune systems should avoid eating raw sprouts of any kind.
  • Cooking sprouts thoroughly will kill any bacteria present and reduce the risk of illness.
  • Persons who think they might have become ill from eating potentially contaminated sprouts should consult their health care provider.
  • Consumers can request that raw sprouts not be added to food. If you purchase a sandwich or salad at a restaurant or delicatessen, and want to avoid sprouts, check to make sure that raw sprouts have not been added.

Who Should be Contacted?

People who think they might have become ill from eating possibly contaminated mung bean sprouts should talk to their health care providers. Contact your healthcare provider if you have diarrhea that lasts for more than 3 days, or is accompanied by high fever, blood in the stool, or so much vomiting that you cannot keep liquids down and you pass very little urine.

The FDA encourages consumers with questions about food safety to call 1-888-SAFEFOOD or consult the fda.gov website: http://www.fda.gov.


The information in this release reflects the FDA’s best efforts to communicate what it has learned from the manufacturer and the state and local public health agencies involved in the investigation. The agency will update this page as more information becomes available.

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