The Food and Drug Administration is warning people not to eat alfalfa sprouts or Spicy Sprouts (a mix of alfalfa and clover sprouts with radish) from Tiny Green Organic Farm of Urbana, Ill. The sprouts were sold in both 4-ounce and 5-pound containers to restaurants, groceries and farmers' markets in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri and possibly other Midwestern states.
At least 87 people have become ill from salmonella traced to Tiny Greens Organic Farm alfalfa sprouts, and half the cases have been traced to alfalfa sprouts consumed on sandwiches from Jimmy John's restaurant outlets in Illinois. (The chain has since stopped serving sprouts on its sandwiches, according to the FDA.) The same strain of salmonella has been blamed for illnesses from Nov. 1 through Dec. 14 in 15 states and the District of Columbia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Ingesting salmonella can cause diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps that set in within three days and can last up to seven. While most people recover without treatment, some need to be hospitalized (at least 23% of those infected in the current outbreak have been hospitalized, according to the CDC) and those with weakened immune systems who aren't properly treated may die.
The FDA is asking consumers, restaurants and markets to identify Tiny Greens Alfalfa Sprouts, and dispose of them in tightly sealed containers to avoid spreading the infection, even to wild animals that might get into trash.
Since 1996, there have been at least 30 reported outbreaks of foodborne illness from raw or lightly cooked sprouts, according to the FDA. The FDA recommends these three tips for avoiding illness from sprouts:
Avoid sprouts of any kind (including alfalfa, clover, radish, and mung bean sprouts) if you are elderly, pregnant, have a weakened immune system, or are preparing food for children.
Cook sprouts thoroughly to reduce the risk of illness.
Ask that raw sprouts not be added to your food, and check for sprouts on sandwiches and salads ordered at restaurants before eating them.
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