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Alfalfa Sprouts Linked to E. Coli and Salmonella Outbreaks

February 26, 2016 — Health officials are warning that separate outbreaks of Salmonella and E. coli have been linked to raw alfalfa sprouts and at least 20 people have been sickened in six states.

The first outbreak was reported by health officials in Kansas on February 19. Irrigation water and alfalfa sprouts from Sweetwater Farms, LLC tested positive for Salmonella Muenchen, and a recall was issued.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported cases in Kansas (5), Missouri (3), Oklahoma (3) and Pennsylvania (2). The illnesses occurred between December 1, 2015 through January 21, 2016.

Meanwhile, health officials in Minnesota reported that an outbreak of E. coli had been linked to alfalfa sprouts from the Wisconsin-based producer Jack & the Green Sprouts. Since late January, seven illnesses were reported in Minnesota and two were reported in Wisconsin, according to the Star Tribune.

Alfalfa sprouts from Jack & the Green Sprouts may still be available in retail stores, grocery/co-ops, restaurants, salad bars, and commercial food service. The have a brightly-colored round label and are packed in plastic clamshells.

Since 1996, various types of sprouts have been linked to at least 30 outbreaks of food poisoning, mostly caused by Salmonella and E. coli. These bacteria thrive in the warm, wet conditions necessary for sprouting seeds. Pregnant women, children, the elderly, and people with vulnerable immune systems should not eat sprouts, health officials warn.

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