The FDA has announced a "preliminary" link between the recent multi-state Salmonella outbreak and Tiny Greens Brand Alfalfa Sprouts and Spicy Sprouts, and issued a warning to consumers advising them not to eat product sold by the Urbana, IL farm. 

Key aspects of the FDA advisory include:

The FDA is advising consumers not to eat Alfalfa Sprouts and Spicy Sprouts (which contain alfalfa sprouts mixed with radish and clover sprouts) from Tiny Greens Organic Farm of Urbana, Ill. The sprouts were distributed in 4 oz. and 5 lb. containers to various customers, including farmers’ markets, restaurants and groceries, in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri and possibly other Midwestern states.

Preliminary results of the investigation of a multistate outbreak of Salmonella infections indicate a link to eating Tiny Greens’ Alfalfa Sprouts at Jimmy John’s restaurant outlets.

The elderly, infants and those with impaired immune systems are more likely to have a severe illness from Salmonella infection.

Consumers should not eat Tiny Greens’ Alfalfa Sprouts or Spicy Sprouts. Consumers, retailers and others who have Tiny Greens Alfalfa Sprouts or Spicy Sprouts should discard them in a sealed container so people and animals, including wild animals, cannot eat them.

Multiple outbreaks of Salmonella have been linked to sprouts in the past.  This outbreak involves the oddly named serotype I 4,[5],12:i:-

As is often the case early in an outbreak investigation, the FDA’s action at this time is based upon epidemiological study, as opposed to a microbiological link.  Comments from Tiny Greens’ owner Bill Bagby Jr. in this report highlight those tensions. 

As is common of one in his position, Bagby is focusing on microbiological tests of his product that he claims have not yet provided a positive result for the pathogen.  It must be borne in mind, however, that these illnesses were first being reported as far back as November 1, through a date of December 21, 2010, as currently reported by the CDC.  There is no guarantee that any product from implicated lots that might relate to reported illnesses are still available for testing.  

Final judgment can be reserved, but a microbiological link is not essential to a reliable finding.   Health agencies rarely act rashly, and do not have the luxury of putting public health at risk in the face of mounting epidemiological evidence.