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Idaho Grower Gives In, Recalls Sprouts

The Idaho sprouts grower who put her foot down, refusing to announce a recall after public health authorities said her sprouts were likely making people sick, relented on Friday.

evergreenproducebag-featured.jpg

Nadine Scharf of Evergreen Sprouts, based in Moyie Springs, Idaho, agreed to recall alfalfa sprouts and spicy sprouts that have been implicated in a Salmonella outbreak that has sickened 21 people in Washington, Montana, Idaho, North Dakota and New Jersey, and sent three people to the hospital.

In the recall announcement, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), stated, “While no samples of Evergreen sprouts have tested positive for Salmonella at this time, epidemiological evidence indicates that Evergreen Produce Alfalfa Sprouts and Spicy Sprouts are the common food eaten by the people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella enteritidis. Tests of Evergreen sprouts are still pending.”

The epidemiological evidence is compelling, the FDA told Food Safety News. Of the first 13 illnesses reported in this outbreak, nine of the case patients reported eating alfalfa sprouts during the week before the onset of their symptoms. Because typically only 4.8 percent of Northwest residents eat sprouts (4.4 percent in the United States as a whole), that 69 percent exposure rate is significant.

The recalled sprouts were distributed in Washington and Idaho by direct delivery to four distributors and three retail stores. The packages display expiration dates from June 22 through July 14. The products being recalled are identified as:

•  Alfalfa Sprouts, Evergreen Produce, 4 oz. bag, UPC 8 38796 00103 7.

•  Alfalfa Sprouts, Evergreen Produce, 16 oz. bag, UPC 8 38796 00108 2.

•  Alfalfa Sprouts, Evergreen Produce, 5 lb. bag, no UPC.

•  Spicy Sprouts, Evergreen Produce, 4 oz. bag, UPC 8 38796 00102 0.

•  Spicy Sprouts, Evergreen Produce, 16 oz. or 5 lb. bag, no UPC.

The FDA has advised people to discard the recalled sprouts.

Consumers can contact Nadine Scharf at 208-267-4258 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 a.m. (PST).

© Food Safety News
  • hhamil

    From the FDA’s own statements, the article “the” is inappropriate. It should be “a” because 4 of the first 13 people who got sick said they had NOT eaten “alfalfa sprouts.” Thus, at this stage, there is no way that the article “the” is appropriate.
    Recently, Bill Marler has made a big deal about the array of investigative journalists now working with Food Safety News (FSN).
    Great! Let’s see how good they are.
    The CDC and FDA consider this a single outbreak. The FDA recall notice states, “…epidemiological evidence indicates that Evergreen Produce Alfalfa Sprouts and Spicy Sprouts are THE [emphasis mine] common food eaten by the people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella enteritidis.” Does the information published by the CDC, FDA and FSN support the premises that this is a single outbreak and contaminated Evergreen Sprouts’ alfalfa sprouts THE likely vehicle?
    Not really so Evergreen Sprouts appears to have had some good reasons to resist a voluntary recall. There are some serious holes in this story including all of the following:
    1. The case study results announced say ONLY that 9 of the first 13 cases had eaten “alfalfa sprouts.” It does not say “Evergreen Sprouts’ alfalfa sprouts.” Did any of them eat sprouts from another source? If they didn’t, this greatly strengthens the case against Evergreen Sprouts.
    2. In the first 13 cases, there are 4 in which the person did NOT eat “alfalfa sprouts” so either there are, at least, 2 outbreaks OR there must be a trail of cross contamination from the “alfalfa sprouts” to them. Do any of the other 4 have a trail that will tie them to Evergreen Sprouts? If so, that strengthens the FDA’s case. If not, how do the CDC and FDA tie those case(s) to this recall?
    3. Which strain of salmonella enteritidis (SE) ties these cases together? One of the problems with salmonella enteritidis is that certain strains are very common so the classification of individual cases as a single outbreak can’t be done as easily as it is with other pathogens like E. coli O157:H7.
    4. New Jersey is a long, long way for sprouts to be distributed from Idaho. Unless there is a clear distribution chain or a NJ case remembers eating Evergreen Sprouts’ alfalfa sprouts, the NJ case(s) are very doubtfully included in this outbreak.
    Repeatedly, the CDC, some state epidemiologists and, particularly, the FDA act as if an initial grouping of cases like these are a single outbreak and it has been solved with this amount of evidence. Then the news media move on. This outbreak(s) has NOT been solved!
    A great example of this is the labeling of the salmonella cases first attributed to tomatoes and then to peppers as having been a single outbreak and peppers from Mexico as being the vehicle. The facts simple do NOT support that. Worst of all the definitive report on that “outbreak” makes no mention of the fact that the peppers identified were NOT distributed in all of the states where cases were identified.
    The issue of accurate classification of cases into outbreaks is of major importance in the effort to improve food safety. Unless the outbreak grouping is correct, the statistics accumulated by the CDC, et al will continue to be of dubious value. In particular, it will be extremely difficult to measure the effectiveness of risk management techniques and almost no way to show an accurate cost-benefit ratio for a given technology.
    Unfortunately, in my 2 years of focusing of food safety regulation, I have seen little interest of the part of those who are styled by themselves and/or the media as “food safety advocates” for holding the CDC, FDA, et al accountable for the low quality of their statistics.
    When is Food Safety News going to cover this important issue?
    I have repeatedly pointed the CDC, FDA, et al’s failure in this area to both you and your publisher, Bill Marler, yet you both continue to ignore this part of the rest of the story. You have ballyhooed your stunning array of investigative journalists. Please put them to work on this issue as no one is giving its due.

  • Harry Hamil

    From the FDA’s own statements, the article “the” is inappropriate. It should be “a” because 4 of the first 13 people who got sick said they had NOT eaten “alfalfa sprouts.” Thus, at this stage, there is no way that the article “the” is appropriate.
    Recently, Bill Marler has made a big deal about the array of investigative journalists now working with Food Safety News (FSN).
    Great! Let’s see how good they are.
    The CDC and FDA consider this a single outbreak. The FDA recall notice states, “…epidemiological evidence indicates that Evergreen Produce Alfalfa Sprouts and Spicy Sprouts are THE [emphasis mine] common food eaten by the people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella enteritidis.” Does the information published by the CDC, FDA and FSN support the premises that this is a single outbreak and contaminated Evergreen Sprouts’ alfalfa sprouts THE likely vehicle?
    Not really so Evergreen Sprouts appears to have had some good reasons to resist a voluntary recall. There are some serious holes in this story including all of the following:
    1. The case study results announced say ONLY that 9 of the first 13 cases had eaten “alfalfa sprouts.” It does not say “Evergreen Sprouts’ alfalfa sprouts.” Did any of them eat sprouts from another source? If they didn’t, this greatly strengthens the case against Evergreen Sprouts.
    2. In the first 13 cases, there are 4 in which the person did NOT eat “alfalfa sprouts” so either there are, at least, 2 outbreaks OR there must be a trail of cross contamination from the “alfalfa sprouts” to them. Do any of the other 4 have a trail that will tie them to Evergreen Sprouts? If so, that strengthens the FDA’s case. If not, how do the CDC and FDA tie those case(s) to this recall?
    3. Which strain of salmonella enteritidis (SE) ties these cases together? One of the problems with salmonella enteritidis is that certain strains are very common so the classification of individual cases as a single outbreak can’t be done as easily as it is with other pathogens like E. coli O157:H7.
    4. New Jersey is a long, long way for sprouts to be distributed from Idaho. Unless there is a clear distribution chain or a NJ case remembers eating Evergreen Sprouts’ alfalfa sprouts, the NJ case(s) are very doubtfully included in this outbreak.
    Repeatedly, the CDC, some state epidemiologists and, particularly, the FDA act as if an initial grouping of cases like these are a single outbreak and it has been solved with this amount of evidence. Then the news media move on. This outbreak(s) has NOT been solved!
    A great example of this is the labeling of the salmonella cases first attributed to tomatoes and then to peppers as having been a single outbreak and peppers from Mexico as being the vehicle. The facts simple do NOT support that. Worst of all the definitive report on that “outbreak” makes no mention of the fact that the peppers identified were NOT distributed in all of the states where cases were identified.
    The issue of accurate classification of cases into outbreaks is of major importance in the effort to improve food safety. Unless the outbreak grouping is correct, the statistics accumulated by the CDC, et al will continue to be of dubious value. In particular, it will be extremely difficult to measure the effectiveness of risk management techniques and almost no way to show an accurate cost-benefit ratio for a given technology.
    Unfortunately, in my 2 years of focusing of food safety regulation, I have seen little interest of the part of those who are styled by themselves and/or the media as “food safety advocates” for holding the CDC, FDA, et al accountable for the low quality of their statistics.
    When is Food Safety News going to cover this important issue?
    I have repeatedly pointed the CDC, FDA, et al’s failure in this area to both you and your publisher, Bill Marler, yet you both continue to ignore this part of the rest of the story. You have ballyhooed your stunning array of investigative journalists. Please put them to work on this issue as no one is giving its due.

  • JustTheFacts

    Using the same logic that dictates that all sprouts are inherently unsafe (and some say, should be banned) — there is a huge amount of empirical evidence that cattle are the primary repository of a number of highly dangerous virulent strains of E coli, including 0157 H:7 — so ipso facto we should therefore ban cattle.
    Or maybe it’s just they have a stronger lobby than the sprouts industry does.

  • Doc Mudd

    Naw, the cattle are OK if you cook ’em first.
    I love cows…they taste delicious!

  • JustTheFacts

    However, of course this is much bigger matter than eating cattle as a food source.
    There’s no question cattle are proven virulent E coli vectors on a condoned daily production basis. So the problem remains: where do all the mountains of highly toxic manure contaminants go to lurk in the food chain??
    Using the ban-the-sprouts logic experts assert the only way to assure true food safety is not to treat the symptoms but ban/remove the source. Until it comes to cattle, that is…