Melissa Kaplan's
Herp Care Collection
Last updated January 1, 2014

FDA Updates: Sprout safety

High risk groups warned: don't eat alfalfa sprouts

FDA Consumer Updates, November/December 1998



A recent California investigation of Salmonella and Escherichia coli O157:H7 outbreaks associated with raw alfalfa sprouts has prompted FDA to reaffirm health advisories cautioning people at high risk for food-borne disease to avoid eating this food product.

High-risk groups include children, older adults, and people with compromised immune systems.

FDA's advisory, issued in August, reaffirms similar advice given by the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last year. FDA's advisory is among a number of steps the federal government and sprout growers are taking to address safety concerns of alfalfa sprouts.

Raw sprouts have been recognized as a source of food-borne illness in the United States since 1995. In California, they have recently been associated with three Salmonella and E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks affecting about 60 people.

An E. coli O157:H7 infection can cause hemolytic uremic syndrome, which can lead to kidney failure or death in children and equally serious complications in older adults. Salmonella can cause serious illness in children, older adults, and immune-compromised people. In healthy people, these bacteria can cause diarrhea, nausea, abdominal cramping, or fever for several days.

Consumers who have eaten raw sprouts and are experiencing severe diarrhea and other extreme symptoms of food-borne infections should see their health-care providers.

FDA's advisory is an interim measure while the agency and industry look for long-term solutions to ensuring the safety of raw sprouts. In 1997, FDA and CDC charged the National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods (a scientific panel that advises the government on food safety) with reviewing data on sprout-associated outbreaks and recommending preventive methods. FDA is now working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service to identify possible interventions, including irradiation.

In addition, FDA has in place a nationwide field assignment to determine current sprout practices during plant growing, washing and packaging and is analyzing samples for microbes. FDA also is meeting with industry groups and the general public to discuss ways to ensure the safety of sprouts.

Sprouts lead beef in E. coli cases . . .
Alfalfa sprouts, rather than ground beef, have been found to cause the greatest number of E. coli O157:H7-related illnesses, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The latest figures show that of the 285 reported cases of illness from the potentially dangerous bacterium, 108 were caused by alfalfa sprouts, while 20 came from eating tainted ground beef. Fifty-two cases of E. coli illness resulted from person-to-person contact, while wading pools accounted for 17.

Centers For Disease Control & Prevention (CDC)

Food & Drug Administration (FDA)

Need to update a veterinary or herp society/rescue listing?

Can't find a vet on my site? Check out these other sites.

Amphibians Conservation Health Lizards Resources
Behavior Crocodilians Herpetology Parent/Teacher Snakes
Captivity Education Humor Pet Trade Societies/Rescues
Chelonians Food/Feeding Invertebrates Plants Using Internet
Clean/Disinfect Green Iguanas & Cyclura Kids Prey Veterinarians
Home About Melissa Kaplan CND Lyme Disease Zoonoses
Help Support This Site   Emergency Preparedness

Brought to you thanks to the good folks at Veterinary Information Network, Inc.

© 1994-2014 Melissa Kaplan or as otherwise noted by other authors of articles on this site