OMAHA, Neb. – A Nebraska company is recalling alfalfa sprouts sold in three states after 16 cases of salmonella were linked to the food.
SunSprouts said Thursday that its recall covers 808 pounds (366.5 kilograms) of sprouts that it sold to distributors in Nebraska, Iowa and Kansas in November and December. Health officials have said they linked the illnesses to alfalfa sprouts eaten at several restaurants and sold at several different grocery chains.
Neither the company nor health officials identified the restaurants and grocers that sold the sprouts that are suspected to be tainted with salmonella.
Nebraska health officials urged people not to eat alfalfa sprouts after they linked the illnesses to them. Most of the cases of salmonella were found in the Omaha area, and all of the people who became sick reported eating alfalfa sprouts between Dec. 4 and Dec. 13.
So far, no salmonella cases have been confirmed outside of Nebraska. But the Food and Drug Administration said it is conducting a multistate investigation into the outbreak.
Nebraska State Epidemiologist Matthew Donahue said the collaboration of state local and federal officials helped quickly identify alfalfa sprouts as the potential source of the illnesses.
“This investigation and rapid pathway to results underscores the critical role of public health investigations," Donahue said.
Salmonella causes sometimes bloody diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps. People with weakened immune systems, the elderly and young children are especially susceptible to developing severe illnesses. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 26,500 people are hospitalized and 450 die from salmonella infections every year. But most people recover from salmonella infections on their own.
The recalled alfalfa sprouts sold under the SunSprouts brand that have expiration dates between Dec. 10 and Dec. 27 and carry lot numbers of either 4211 or 5211.
SunSprouts, which is based in Fremont, Nebraska, said it is investigating how the sprouts were handled after they left the company's facility.
Company President Mike Rhodes said the recall is being done voluntarily “out of an abundance of caution” to make sure people don't get sick.
Rhodes said there haven't been any positive salmonella tests at the company's plant, which FDA inspectors visited Thursday.