The E. coli Outbreak:  As of June 9, 2014, the CDC reports a total of 17 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O121 (STEC O121) have been reported from five states.  The number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows:  Idaho (3), Michigan (1), Montana (2), Utah (1), and Washington (10).  47% of ill persons have been hospitalized. No ill persons have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), and no deaths have been reported.

Public Health Warning:  Raw clover sprouts have not been recalled from Evergreen Fresh Sprouts. Because contaminated sprouts may still be available on the market, CDC recommends that consumers do not eat any raw clover sprouts produced by Evergreen Fresh Sprouts.  The Washington State Department of Health and the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare are also advising people not to eat raw clover sprouts produced by Evergreen Fresh Sprouts.

Product Traceback:  Epidemiology and traceback investigations conducted by local, state, and federal officials indicated that contaminated raw clover sprouts produced by Evergreen Fresh Sprouts, LLC of Idaho are the likely source of this outbreak.  In interviews, 12 (86%) of 14 ill persons reported eating raw clover sprouts in the week before becoming ill. As part of the ongoing investigation, FDA performed a traceback analysis and determined that Evergreen Sprouts, in the timeframe prior to the outbreak, supplied sprouts to seven restaurants at which 9 people who became ill during the outbreak reported eating before they became ill.  Eight of the people who became ill recalled eating sprouts. This analysis used documents collected directly from the distributors and the grower, Evergreen Fresh Sprouts, as well as documents collected by the states from the points of service.

Environmental Investigation:  The FDA also conducted an inspection of Evergreen Fresh Sprouts’ facility on May 22-23, 2014; May 27-30, 2014; and June 6, 2014. During the inspection, FDA investigators observed a number of unsanitary conditions, including condensate and irrigation water dripping from rusty valves; a rusty and corroded mung bean room watering system; tennis rackets that had scratches, chips, and frayed plastic” used to scoop mung bean sprouts; a pitchfork with corroded metal being used to transfer mung bean sprouts; and a squeegee with visible corroded metal and non-treated wood being used to agitate mung bean sprouts inside a soak vat.

Past Sprout Related Outbreaks:  Barfblog does a great job of tracking sprout outbreak through 2012.  Outbreak Database carries on through 2014.

Past Problems at Evergreen Sprouts:  Also, according to CDC, from April 12 to July 5, 2011, a total of 25 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Enteritidis have been reported from five states. Results of the investigation indicate a link to eating alfalfa sprouts and spicy sprouts manufactured by Evergreen Fresh Sprouts. On July 1, 2011, Evergreen Fresh Sprouts LLC of Moyie Springs, Idaho, announced a recall of specific lots of alfalfa sprouts and spicy sproutsbecause these products have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.

Lawsuit:  Marler Clark, the nation’s only law firm dedicated to representing victims of foodborne illness, filed a lawsuit in Kootenai County Court in Idaho on behalf of behalf of a young mother who was hospitalized with an E. coli O121 infection linked to Evergreen Fresh Sprouts served at a Jimmy Johns restaurant, located in Hayden, Idaho.

The plaintiff has tested positive for E. coli O121. Her illness can be traced back to late April when she purchased and consumed a #6 veggie sandwich from a Jimmy John’s restaurant located at 8160 North Cornerstone in Hayden, Idaho. The sandwich contained tainted clover sprouts from Evergreen Fresh Sprouts.

She began feeling ill around May 6. Her symptoms became so severe that she sought emergency medical treatment at the Kootenai Hospital Medical Center in Coeur d Alene. She was treated with intravenous fluids for rehydration and underwent a CT scan to try and determine the cause of severe gastrointestinal pain.

Soon after being discharged, she was admitted to Sacred Heart, a larger regional medical center in Spokane. She was hospitalized and, ultimately, tested positive for the same strain of E. coli O121 tied to the clover sprouts outbreak from Evergreen Clover Sprouts. She is currently at home recovering from her illness.

Food Safety Advocates:  Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of E. coli outbreaks and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). The E. coli lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of E. coli and other foodborne illness infections and have recovered over $600 million for clients. Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation.  Our E. coli lawyers have litigated E. coli and HUS cases stemming from outbreaks traced to ground beef, raw milk, lettuce, spinach, sprouts, and other food products.  The law firm has brought E. coli lawsuits against such companies as Jack in the Box, Dole, ConAgra, Cargill, and Jimmy John’s.  We have proudly represented such victims as Brianne KinerStephanie Smith and Linda Rivera.

Perhaps its time for a Warning Label on Sprouts?