RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—On Monday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a recall of alfalfa and spicy sprouts sold in a few Northwestern states under the "Evergreen Produce" label. Sold in Idaho, Montana, and Washington state (and possibly neighboring states as well), the sprouts have sickened 21 people with a strain of Salmonella Enteritidis "rarely seen at this frequency," the agency said in a release.
Though this outbreak isn't associated with the recent outbreak in Europe that started with sprouts (those sprouts were contaminated with E. coli), it does bring attention to the dubious safety of eating raw sprouts. Because of the warm, moist conditions required for the seeds to sprout, bacteria that could be lingering on the seed before sprouting (whether from tainted irrigation water or a worker's dirty hands) proliferate quickly. The bacteria can even contaminate other produce in your kitchen as you're preparing to cook them. Between 1990 and 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has tied at least 45 outbreaks to sprouts.
The CDC is working with the FDA to launch a more in-depth investigation into the illnesses, which have popped up in five states so far: Idaho, Montana, Washington, North Dakota, and New Jersey. The contaminated sprouts may still be on store shelves, so if you have any alfalfa or spice sprouts sold by Evergreen Produce Inc., toss them.
For more info, see:
About Sprouts: Don't Eat Them, and Everything Else You Need to Know