September 20, 2019

Largest Multistate Outbreaks of 2014 #5: Clover Sprouts

An E. coli 0121 outbreak linked to raw clover sprouts sickened 19 people in 6 states in 2014 was the fifth largest outbreak of 2014. Traceback investigations found that contaminated sprouts were produced by Evergreen Fresh Sprouts of Idaho and were sold at Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwich locations, the Pita Pit, and Daanen’s Deli.

Raw SproutsThe case count per state was: California (1), Idaho (3), Michigan (1), Montana (2), Utah (1), and Washington (11).. Illnesses began from May 1, 2014 to May 20, 2014. Patients ranged in age from 11 years to 52 years, with a median age of 27 years. Sixty-eight percent of ill persons were female. Public health officials interviewed 16 patients; of those, seven, or 44%, were hospitalized. No one developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), and no deaths were reported.

In interviews, 81% of those 16 ill persons ate raw clover sprouts the week before they became ill. Evergreen Fresh Sprouts supplied sprouts to seven restaurants where 9 people who got sick ate.

An inspection was conducted by the FDA and they found unsanitary conditions at Evergreen Fresh Sprouts, including condensate and irrigation water dripping from rusty valves; a rusty and corroded watering system in the mung bean room; tennis rackets used to scoop the sprouts that had screeches, chips, and frayed plastic. In addition, a pitchfork used to transfer mung bean sprouts had corroded metal, and a squeegee used to agitate mung bean sprouts inside a soak vat had visible corroded metal and non-traeted wood.

Evergreen Fresh Sprouts decided to stop using the seed lot used to grow clover sprouts linked to this outbreak after a meeting with public health officials, who were concerned that those seeds were contaminated with E. coli 0121 bacteria. And the FDA received independent confirmation that the company received a new clover seed lot.

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