Don’t Eat Alfalfa Sprouts
For the time being, federal health regulators warn you to stop eating raw alfalfa sprouts until further notice.
Those are the popular curly greens found on top of sandwiches as an alternative to lettuce. They have been linked to a Salmonella Saintpaul in six states. The warning only covers alfalfa and not other bean sprouts, although alfalfa sprouts can be found in sprout blends, says the FDA.
Infected seeds are suspected to be the source, warns the CDC and FDA, which is working with the sprout industry to identify the suspect seeds.
So far 31 cases of salmonella are reported in Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Utah, and West Virginia since mid-March.
In February, more than 100 people in five states were sickened by salmonella sprouts, and this latest appears to be an extension.
Sprouts contaminated with E. coli 0157:H7 were reported in 2002 and covered all raw sprouts.
The Saintpaul variety of salmonella was that strain that was suspected in tainted tomatoes last year until the source was found to be in jalapeño and Serrano peppers grown, harvested, or packed in Mexico. After those products were removed from the market, in July 2008, the FDA lifted its advice to avoid raw red round, red Roma, and red plum tomatoes, but by then the food scare had devastated the domestic tomato industry.
Sprout growers are supposed to follow guidelines issued a decade ago. Seeds are supposed to be disinfected immediately before sprouting (such as treating seed in 20,000 parts per million Calcium hypochlorite solution with agitation for 15 minutes) and regularly testing the water used for every batch of sprouts for Salmonella and E coli O157:H7 contamination, reports the FDA.
The Salmonella Saintpaul bacterial strain is uncommon, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control which used to see about 400 Saintpaul infections in humans each year.
Symptoms of the foodborne poisoning include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever and can last up to a week. Especially at risk for more serious symptoms include the elderly and young children. #