Both the Food and Drug Administration and Center for Disease Control and Prevention are warning consumers not to eat alfalfa sprouts in plastic bags labeled Evergreen Produce brand alfalfa sprouts and spicy sprouts.
The sprouts are possibly linked to 21 reported cases, including three hospitalizations, of Salmonella Enteritidis in 5 states: three in Idaho, seven in Montana, one in North Dakota, one in New Jersey and nine in Washington State.
CDC is collaborating with public health officials in many states and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to investigate this multistate outbreak. Investigators are using DNA analysis of Salmonella bacteria obtained through diagnostic testing to identify cases of illness that may be part of this outbreak.
Salmonella Enteritidis is a pathogen the FDA claims is different from the deadliest E. coli outbreak in history — also linked to bean sprouts — that eventually spread to 12 EU countries. Thus far 47 people have died and 4,000 sickened from the outbreak of E. coli in Europe.
Business Week reports Evergreen Produce, Inc. has stopped producing the alfalfa and spicy sprouts but has refused to recall the sprouts from stores. The company claims there is not enough evidence to link the illnesses to their products.
Even though the new food safety law enacted earlier this year empowers the FDA to force a recall, the agency has done nothing to coerce Evergreen to recall their beansprouts. Salmonella is an enterobacteria that can cause serious and even fatal infections and weakens immune systems.
The FDA’s inaction explains why the Department of Health and Human Services has warned that the FDA has placed the safety our nation’s food supply in grave jeopardy.
In its report, the Department of Health and Human Services charged the FDA with not only failing to conduct comprehensive reviews of companies’ food recalls, but also of not supervising how companies disposed of their recalled products.
According to the CDC, “most persons infected with Salmonella bacteria develop diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most persons recover without treatment. However, in some persons, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized.
“Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the bloodstream, and then to other body sites and can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics. The elderly, infants and those with impaired immune systems are more likely to have a severe illness from Salmonella infection”.
Last week, the first reported case of human-to-human spread of E. coli was announced in Europe. Health officials in Germany claim a woman in the state of Hesse, working in the kitchen of a catering company near Frankfurt, became infected with the bacterium after eating sprouts, and passed it on to 20 people she prepared food for.
A week before that, eight children were admitted to a hospital in northern France after eating beef burgers infected with a strain of E coli bacteria. One of the hospitalized children, a 2-year-old, required breathing assistance and is in an artificial coma.