September 22, 2017

Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Sprouted Chia Powder in 2014

A Salmonella outbreak in 2014 that sickened 31 people in 16 states was linked to contaminated organic sprouted chia powder. This product is used to make smoothies and puddings because it retains water so is used as a thickening agent. Five of the ill persons were hospitalized.

A chia powder Salmonella outbreak linked to chia powder has hit NY and WI hardThere were three different Salmonella strains that were part of this outbreak. Salmonella Newport sickened 20 people; Salmonella Hartford sickened 7; and Salmonella Oranienburg sickened 4. Investigations, including traceback, found that sprouted chia powder was the likely source of these bacteria. It’s made from chia seeds that are sprouted, dried, and ground.

Many recalls were issued as a result of this outbreak.  The brands that were recalled included Health Matters, Navitas Naturals, and Green Smoothie Girl. The products had a long shelf life, so consumers may still have them in their homes. If you do, discard them in a sealed container or return to the place of purchase for a refund.

The patient case count by state was: Arizona (1), California (4), Colorado (1), Connecticut (3), Florida (1), Illinois (2), Maryland (1), Massachusetts (1), Michigan (1), New York (7), Ohio (1), Rhode Island (1), Texas (2), Utah (1), Washington (1), and Wisconsin (3). Illness onset dates ranged from January 21, 2014 to July 22, 2014. Sixty-one percent of ill persons were female.

 

Twenty-one people were interviewed as part of the outbreak investigation. Nineteen, or 90%, of those people ate chia seeds or powder before becoming ill. Of those 19 people, 79% ate chia powder specifically. Traceback identified Bioessential Botanicals, a firm in Canada, as a common supplier of organic sprouted chia powder. Testing of unopened products identified the outbreak strains of Salmonella in products containing chia powder.

The symptoms of a Salmonella infection include diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps. Most people are sick for four to seven days and recover without medical care. But some people become so ill they must be hospitalized, and complications of a Salmonella infection can be severe, including reactive arthritis and heart problems. If you ate organic sprouted chia powder products and got sick, please see your doctor. The long term effects of any food poisoning infection can be severe.

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