The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) today warned consumers not to eat Nature’s Choice, Caldwell Fresh Foods or California Fresh Exotics brands of alfalfa sprouts because these products may be contaminated with Salmonella, a food pathogen that can cause serious illness. Caldwell Fresh Foods of Maywood, California has initiated a voluntary recall of all alfalfa sprouts produced under these brand names because of the potential for them being contaminated.
“Consumers, especially infants, young children, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems are susceptible to serious infection when exposed to Salmonella,” said Kevin Reilly, chief deputy director of CDPH. “Today’s warning is part of our ongoing efforts to protect the health and safety of Californians.”
Alfalfa sprouts from the company’s facility have been associated with an outbreak of Salmonella Newport that has sickened 23 people in 10 states, including 11 people in California. No deaths have been reported, however six cases have required hospitalization. The latest known onset of illness was May 2 and a high proportion of those who have become sick have reported eating raw alfalfa sprouts. The illnesses among California residents have occurred in eight counties.
Salmonellosis is an acute bacterial infection that can cause diarrhea, fever and vomiting. Symptoms usually develop within one to four days after eating contaminated food. Most cases resolve without the need for medical attention. However, some individuals develop serious illness that can lead to hospitalization.
The recalled alfalfa sprouts are packaged in 4-ounce plastic cups and one pound plastic bags under the Caldwell Fresh Foods brand; 4-ounce plastic cups under the Nature’s Choice brand; 5-ounce plastic clamshell containers under the California Fresh Exotics brand; and 2-pound and 5 pound plastic bags in cardboard boxes with a Caldwell Fresh Foods sticker.
The sprouts were distributed to a variety of restaurants, delicatessens and retailers including Trader Joe’s and WalMart stores.
CDPH has been warning the public for more than 10 years about the risk of eating sprouts because:
Sprouts usually are eaten raw, with no additional treatment (i.e., cooking), which eliminates bacteria that can cause disease.
Conditions required for sprout growing are ideal for rapid bacterial growth.
Consumers may unknowingly be exposed to sprouts on sandwiches or salads purchased at restaurants and delicatessens.
Consumers who purchased these products should immediately discard them or return them to the point of purchase for a refund.