FDA Warns About Raw Alfalfa Sprouts
On April 26, 2009, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended that consumers not eat raw alfalfa sprouts, including sprout blends containing alfalfa sprouts, until further notice because the product has been linked to Salmonella serotype Saintpaul contamination. Other types of sprouts have not been implicated at this time.
The investigation indicates that the problem may be linked to contamination of seeds for alfalfa sprouts. FDA and CDC are issuing this general advisory because suspect lots of seeds may be sold around the country and may account for a large proportion of the alfalfa seeds currently being used by sprout growers, and cases of illness are spread across multiple states.
FDA will work with the alfalfa sprout industry to help identify which seeds and alfalfa sprouts are not connected with this contamination, so that this advisory can be changed as quickly as possible.
CDC, FDA, and six state and local authorities have associated this outbreak with eating raw alfalfa sprouts. Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Utah, and West Virginia have reported 31 cases of illness with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Saintpaul to CDC. Most of those who became ill reported eating raw alfalfa sprouts. Some reported eating raw sprouts at restaurants; others reported purchasing the raw sprouts at the retail level.
The illnesses began in mid-March. Cases are still being reported, and possible cases are in various stages of laboratory testing, so illnesses may appear in other states. No deaths have been reported.
Salmonella is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy people infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses, such as meningitis and bone infections.
This article appears on FDA's Consumer Updates page, which features the latest on all FDA-regulated products.
Date Posted: April 28, 2009