June 17, 2024

Sprouts A Common Source Of Outbreaks

The E. coli outbreak linked to clover sprouts from Jimmy John’s restaurants is the fifth multi-state outbreak caused by sprouts in the last three years, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Bean SproutsSo far, 12 people in five states have been sickened by E. coli O26 after eating sandwiches with sprouts from Jimmy John’s restaurants. The case count by state is as follows: Iowa (5), Missouri (3), Kansas (2), Arkansas (1), and Wisconsin (1).  All of those who became ill are females ranging in age from 9 years to 49 years old, with a median age of 25 years old. Two of the victims have been hospitalized.

E. coli symptoms include severe abdominal cramps, bloody diarrhea, and vomiting, sometimes accompanied by a low-grade fever. Health officials urge anyone with these symptoms to contact a health care provider.

Sprouts are an inherently risky food for three reasons. One, bacteria can actually be encapsulated in the seeds, which means that treatments to kill bacteria on the exterior of the seed will have no effect. Second, the growing conditions for sprouts are also the ideal growing conditions for bacteria: warm and moist. And third, there is no “kill step” when serving sprouts. This vegetable is served raw, leaving bacteria intact. Heating sprouts would destroy their inherent quality.

Recent sprouts outbreaks include:

April- July 2011Salmonella Enteritidis sickens 25 people in five states who ate alfalfa sprouts and spicy sprouts manufactured by Evergreen Fresh Sprouts, LLC. of Moyie Springs, Idaho.

November 2010 – February 2011  Salmonella I 4,[5],12:i:- sickens 140 people in 26 states after eating Tiny Greens Alfalfa Sprouts or Spicy Sprouts at Jimmy John’s restaurants

May – June 2010 Salmonella Newport sickens a total of 44 people in 11 states who ate sprouts produced by H. Caldwell and Sons Inc. of Maywood, Calif.

February 2009 Salmonella Saintpaul sickens 235 people from 14 states who ate sprouts produces by multiple growers  and a single seed grower.


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