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CDC declares end to E. coli outbreak linked to fresh sprouts

An outbreak traced to fresh sprouts appears to be over, according to federal officials who say 11 people in two states were sickened by E. coli bacteria in Jack & The Green Sprouts alfalfa sprouts.


Eight people in Minnesota and three in Wisconsin were confirmed with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157, with symptom onset dates ranging from Jan. 17 through Feb. 17 this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Two of the victims required hospitalization.

“This outbreak was not related to the multistate outbreak of Salmonella Muenchen infections linked to alfalfa sprouts produced by Sweetwater Farms of Inman, KS,” the CDC reported in its final update Friday on the E. coli outbreak.

“This outbreak appears to be over; however, sprouts are a known source of foodborne illness. We recommend that consumers, restaurants, and other retailers always follow food safety practices to avoid illness from eating sprouts,” the CDC advised.

On Feb. 25 Jack & the Green Sprouts Inc. of River Falls, WI, recalled all of its alfalfa and alfalfa onion sprouts, including sprouts. The recall came a day after the Minnesota Department of Health warned consumers not to eat alfalfa sprouts produced by the company.

The CDC collaborated with public health officials in multiple states and the Food and Drug Administration to investigate the E. coli outbreak. Public health investigators used the PulseNet system to identify illnesses that were part of this outbreak.

PulseNet performs DNA fingerprinting on STEC bacteria isolated from ill people by using techniques called pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and whole genome sequencing (WGS). PulseNet manages a national database of these DNA fingerprints to identify possible outbreaks.

“State and local health and regulatory officials performed traceback investigations from eight different locations where ill people ate or bought alfalfa sprouts. These investigations indicated that Jack & The Green Sprouts supplied alfalfa sprouts to all eight locations,” The CDC reported.

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