FDA Warns Against Eating Sprouts

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning people not to eat certain kinds of alfalfa sprouts over concerns that they may be contaminated with salmonella.

Consumers should not eat alfalfa sprouts produced by Tiny Greens Organic Farm of Urbana, Ill., in part because preliminary results of the investigation of a multistate outbreak of Salmonella infections indicate a link to eating Tiny Greens Alfalfa Sprouts at Jimmy John’s restaurants.

But, the products were distributed in 4-ounce and 5-pound bags to other restaurants and venues including grocery stores and farmers’ markets in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri and other Midwestern states.

About half of the illnesses were reported in Illinois, where most of those sickened ate sandwiches at Jimmy John’s locations. The restaurant chain has stopped using the sprouts in its food.

The outbreak affected about 89 people in a total of 15 states and the District of Columbia between Nov. 1 and Dec. 21, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Sprouts are a known source of foodborne illness, the FDA said. Since 1996, there have been at least 30 reported outbreaks of foodborne illness associated with different types of raw and lightly cooked sprouts.

Most persons infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts four to seven days, and most persons recover without treatment. However, some individuals may require hospitalization from severe diarrhea, and the risk to the elderly, infants and those with impaired immune systems is more severe.