April 14, 2021

Top 10 Multistate Outbreaks of 2016: Number 8 Jack & The Green Sprouts

The eighth largest food poisoning outbreak in 2016 was a multistate outbreak of E. coli O157 infections linked to alfalfa sprouts produced by Jack & the Green Sprouts. Eleven people in two states were sickened in this outbreak. Two people were hospitalized.


The case count by state is: Minnesota (8), and Wisconsin (3). No one developed hemolytic uremic syndrome in this outbreak, and no one died.

The facility that produced the sprouts is located in River Falls, Wisconsin. Epidemiological evidence indicates that that facility is the likely source of the outbreak.

Raw sprouts are a known source of foodborne illness. People in high risk groups, such as the elderly, the very young, people with chronic illnesses, and those with compromised immune systems should not eat raw sprouts.

Public health investigators used the PulseNet system to find people who were part of this outbreak. Illnesses started on dates ranging from January 17, 2016 to February 17, 2016. The patient age range was from 17 years to 84.

Nine patients were interviewed in this outbreak. All of them ate or “possibly ate” alfalfa sprouts the week before they got sick. Traceback investigations from eight different locations where patients bought or ate alfalfa sprouts showed that Jack & The Green Sprouts supplied alfalfa sprouts to all of those facilities.

The Minnesota Department of Health issued a press release on February 24, 2016, warning consumers not to eat alfalfa sprouts produced by Jack & The Green Sprouts. And Jack & The Green Sprouts voluntarily recalled all alfalfa and alfalfa onion sprout products from the marketplace.

The symptoms of an E. coli infection include severe abdominal cramps, diarrhea that may be bloody and/or watery, a mild fever, and nausea. Most people get sick within a few days after eating foods contaminated with this pathogenic bacteria.

These infections are usually serious enough that people go to a doctor. Antibiotics should not be prescribed to anyone with an E. coli infection, since that can increase the risk of developing hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), that can destroy the kidneys.

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