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Alfalfa sprouts recalled after at least 22 ill

WASHINGTON (AP) - Salmonella found in raw alfalfa sprouts
appears to have sickened at least 22 people in 10 states, including
a baby in Oregon, prompting a nationwide recall of the product.
Caldwell Fresh Foods of Maywood, Calif., announced the recall
Friday. According to the Oregon Department of Human Services, which
also announced the recall Friday, Caldwell's alfalfa product was
sold in 18 states in the West, Midwest and South.
According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, 11 people were sickened in California, two were
sickened in Nevada and two were sickened in Wisconsin. Arizona,
Oregon, Idaho, Illinois, Missouri, New Mexico and Colorado each had
one person become ill, the CDC said. The illnesses began between
March 1 and May 2 and six people were hospitalized.
A representative for Caldwell did not return a call Friday and a
release issued by the company did not list the states to which the
company sold the alfalfa sprouts.
The company's release did say the alfalfa sprouts were sold at
restaurants, delicatessens and retailers nationwide, including many
in California. Those California stores include Wal-Mart, Trader
Joe's, Kings Supermarket, Numero Uno, Cardenas Markets, Gonzales
Northgate Markets, Jons Marketplace and Canton Foods, the company
said.
Oregon officials said the sprouts may have gone to more than 400
stores, including Wal-Marts in several states. Wal-Mart did not
respond to a request for comment.
The company said the recalled alfalfa sprouts were sold in
plastic cups and plastic bags under the Caldwell Fresh Foods brand,
plastic cups under the Nature's Choice brand and plastic containers
under the California Fresh Exotics brand.
William E. Keene, a senior epidemiologist at the Oregon health
department, said Caldwell Fresh Foods is cooperating with an
investigation.
Salmonella is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes
fatal infections in those with weakened immune systems. It can
cause diarrhea, fever and vomiting.
Keene said the baby who was sickened was a 4-month-old boy who
was fed alfalfa sprouts mixed with other foods. His sickness made
the cause of the outbreak easier to identify, Keene said, because
the infant had not yet eaten many foods. He was hospitalized but
has now recovered.
Oregon health officials said this is the 12th outbreak in
sprouts that has sickened people in the state since 1995. Keene
went as far as to warn against eating raw sprouts at all, saying
anyone concerned with foodborne illness should be aware of the
number of outbreaks.
Alfalfa sprouts are grown in a moist environment, heightening
the chances of bacterial growth. The Food and Drug Administration
and the CDC recommend at all times that people with a high risk of
complications, such as the elderly, children and those with
weakened immune systems, not eat raw sprouts because of the risk of
contamination with salmonella.
This is the second large multistate outbreak in fresh produce
announced this month. The CDC said Friday that they have identified
additional people sickened by an outbreak of E. coli in romaine
lettuce, bringing the total to 26 people sickened in Michigan, New
York, Ohio, Tennessee and Pennsylvania. Seven additional cases are
suspected, the CDC said.
----
Online:
Centers for Disease Control:
http://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/newport/index.html
Caldwell Fresh Foods release:
http://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ucm213119.htm

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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