Yesterday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it was warning consumers not to eat alfalfa sprouts or spicy sprouts from plastic bags labeled “Evergreen Produce” or “Evergreen Produce Inc.,” because the sprouts may be linked to 20 cases of Salmonella poisoning. Yet despite this warning, AP’s Mary Clare Jalonick reported that Evergreen Produce has not recalled its sprout products from the market. Specifically, when interviewed, co-owner of Evergreen Produce, Nadine Scharf, responded that she didn’t believe FDA had enough evidence to link the illnesses to the company’s products. However, according to Jalonick’s report, “The agency’s warning to consumers Monday is an unusual step that the agency will generally only take if a company refuses to recall a product and officials believe there is possible danger to those who consume it.”
As of June 27, 2011, a total of 21 persons with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Enteritidis have been reported from 5 states: Idaho (3), Montana (7), North Dakota (1), New Jersey (1) and Washington (9). Among persons for whom information is available, illnesses began between April 12 and June 7, 2011. Ill persons range in age from 12 years to 77 years old, with a median age of 35 years old. Seventy-one percent are female. Among the 10 ill persons with available information, 3 (30%) persons have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.
Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is collaborating with public health officials in many states and FDA to investigate the multistate outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis infections that has been linked to alfalfa sprouts and spicy sprouts from Evergreen Produce. Investigators are using DNA analysis of Salmonella bacteria obtained through diagnostic testing to identify cases of illness that may be part of this outbreak.
The outbreak can be visually described with a chart showing the number of people who became ill each day, referred to as an epidemic curve or epi curve (pictured left). Illnesses that occurred after June 9, 2011, might not be reported yet due to the time it takes between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported. This takes an average of 2 to 3 weeks. For more information, please see Salmonella Outbreak Investigations: Timeline for Reporting Cases.
CDC, FDA, and state and local public health partners are continuing surveillance to identify new cases and trace potentially contaminated products. CDC will continue to update the public on the progress of this investigation as information becomes available.