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The CDC has been warning the public for 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.
Sprouts Recalls and Outbreaks
Ten people in Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin were sickened in a December 2017 outbreak of Salmonella Montevideo infections. The likely cause of this outbreak was eating raw sprouts, according to the CDC, and eight of the ten people, all sickened in Illinois and Wisconsin, reported eating at multiple Jimmy John’s restaurants. Of the eight people who ate at Jimmy John’s, all of them said that they ate raw sprouts on a sandwich from a Jimmy John’s restaurant in Illinois and Wisconsin. One person sickened in this outbreak ate raw sprouts purchased from a grocery store in Minnesota.
Thirty-six people in nine states were sickened in a 2016 outbreak of illnesses caused by Salmonella Reading (30), Salmonella Abony (1), and a combination of the two (5): Colorado (17), Kansas (9), Minnesota (1), Missouri (1), Nebraska (3), New York (1), Oregon (1), Texas (1), and Wyoming (2). The likely source of the infections was alfalfa sprouts supplied by Sprouts Extraordinare, according to the CDC. People became sick from May 21, 2016 to September 10, 2016. On August 5, 2016, Sprouts Extraordinaire recalled its alfalfa sprout products from the market due to possible Salmonella contamination. These products were sold in boxes labeled “5-lb Living Alfalfa.”