Food

FDA Investigates Multistate Outbreak of Salmonella Infections Linked to Alfalfa Sprouts

September 30, 2016

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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 infections.

Fast Facts

  • FDA’s traceback investigation indicated that Sprouts Extraordinaire supplied alfalfa sprouts to five different restaurant locations where ill people reported eating alfalfa sprouts
  • On September 30, 2016, CDC reported that the outbreak appears to be over. Thirty-six people infected with the outbreak strains have been reported from 9 states.
  • On August 5, 2016, Sprouts Extraordinaire initiated a voluntary recall of “5-lb Living Alfalfa” sprout products. 

What was the Problem and What was Done About It?

The FDA, CDC, state and local officials investigated a multi-state outbreak of Salmonella infections for which alfalfa sprouts produced by Sprouts Extraordinaire were the likely source.

The CDC reports that 36 people infected with the outbreak strains have been reported from nine states: Colorado (17), Kansas (9), Minnesota (1), Missouri (1), Nebraska (3), New York (1), Oregon (1), Texas (1) and Wyoming (2).Of the ill people, 30 were infected with Salmonella Reading, 1 was infected with Salmonella Abony and 5 people were infected with both Salmonella Reading and Salmonella Abony. Illnesses started on dates ranging from May 21, 2016 to September 10, 2016. Seven people have been hospitalized. There have been no deaths reported.

Collaborative investigation efforts of the FDA, CDC, and state partners indicated that alfalfa sprouts produced by Sprouts Extraordinaire of Denver, CO were the likely source of this outbreak.

The FDA and state and local health agencies performed traceback investigations at five different restaurant locations where ill people reported eating alfalfa sprouts. These investigations indicate that Sprouts Extraordinaire supplied alfalfa sprouts to all five of these locations.

Following a conference call with the FDA and the CDC on August 4, 2016, Sprouts Extraordinaire initiated a voluntary recall of 5-lb boxes of living alfalfa sprouts that were harvested on July 5, 2016 to July 26, 2016. The recalled products are labeled “5-lb Living Alfalfa” and were not sold directly to consumers. The products were distributed to Colorado, Kansas, Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Texas, Wyoming and Wisconsin.

On September 30, 2016, CDC reported that the outbreak appears to be over.

What are the Symptoms of Salmonella Infection?

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

How Soon After Exposure do Symptoms Appear?

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 people. Children younger than five, the elderly, and those people with weakened immune systems are more likely to have severe infections.

What Specific Products were Recalled?

Following a conference call with the FDA and the CDC on August 4, 2016, Sprouts Extraordinaire initiated a voluntary recall of “5-lb Living Alfalfa” sprouts that were harvested on July 5, 2016 to July 26, 2016. The recalled products had the following expiration dates: 07/05/16, 07/12/16, 07/18/16, 07/19/16, 07/26/16. The recalled products were not sold directly to consumers.

What Do Restaurants and Retailers Need To Do?

Restaurants and retailers should not sell or serve 5 lb. Living Alfalfa sprouts harvested on July 5, 2016 to July 26, 2016 and produced by Sprouts Extraordinaire.

  • 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 hot 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.

Sprouts are a frequent source of foodborne illness. Always practice food safety for sprouts.

  • Cook sprouts thoroughly to reduce the risk of illness. Thoroughly cooking sprouts kills the harmful bacteria.
  • FDA recommends that retailers purchase sprouts from sprouters that follow the FDA Guidance for Reducing Microbial Food Safety Hazards for Sprouted Seeds.

What Do Consumers Need To Do?

People should not eat 5 lb. Living Alfalfa sprouts harvested on July 5, 2016 to July 26, 2016 and produced by Sprouts Extraordinaire. The recalled products had the following expiration dates: 07/05/16, 07/12/16, 07/18/16, 07/19/16, 07/26/16. People who think they might have become ill from eating possibly contaminated sprouts should talk to their health care providers.

Like any fresh produce that is consumed raw or lightly cooked, sprouts may contain bacteria that can cause foodborne illness. Children, the elderly, pregnant women, and persons with weakened immune systems should avoid eating raw sprouts of any kind.

Who Should be Contacted?

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.

Additional Information

For more information, see


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. 

Page Last Updated: 09/30/2016
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