December 14, 2019

FDA Tells Sprout Grower in E.coli Outbreak: Stop Using Seed Lot

After an E.coli outbreak was linked to clover sprouts from Evergreen Fresh Sprouts in May, the Moyle Springs, Idaho company continued to use the seed lot that produced the contaminated sprouts to make and distribute more sprouts that are likely still one the market, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  The company has not recalled the sprouts, so the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are warning consumers not to eat the sprouts.

Clover Sprouts CloseupA few days ago, representatives from both agencies met with the owner of the company to discuss the risks associated with the continued use of the seed lot and advocate that it no longer be used. The company has now agreed to stop using the seed lot.

According to the FDA, “seeds are considered the most likely source of contamination in most sprout-associated outbreaks.  Microbial contamination in seed is not expected to be uniform but rather clustered and localized.  When contamination occurs sporadically and at low levels, a negative test result is not a guarantee of the absence of disease causing germs in the seed lot. If there is reason to believe that a specific seed lot has been associated with foodborne illness, there is reason to believe that other parts of that lot may be contaminated.  It is important to note that the environmental conditions that promote sprout growth will also promote the growth of disease-causing germs.”

In this outbreak, 18 people in five states have been sickened by Evergreen clover sprouts that are tainted with E. coli O121. The sprouts are served at Jimmy John’s and other sandwich shops. About 44 percent of those who became ill required hospitalization, but none of the case patients developed  hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). By state, the case count is as follows: Idaho (3), Michigan (1), Montana (1), Utah (1),  and Washington (11). 

Symptoms of  an E.coli infection include a mild fever, serious, abdominal cramping, vomiting, nausea, and bloody diarrhea. Anyone who has eaten these sprouts and develops these symptoms should see a doctor. Be sure to mention possible exposure to E.coli, as treatment with antibiotics can make E.coli infections worse and actually increase the odds of a complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which can cause kidney failure.

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