After Salmonella Outbreak, SunSprouts Get FDA Warning Letter

After causing a Salmonella outbreak that sickened 63 people, SunSprout Enterprises has received a warning letter from the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  The eight-state outbreak hospitalized 10 people in late 2022 and early 2023.

SunSprouts alfalfa sprouts Salmonella recall

SunSprout Alfalfa Sprout Salmonella Outbreak

To identify the genetic “fingerprint” of the Salmonella outbreak strain, health officials used whole genome sequencing (WGS). Fingerprints that match indicate that people were exposed to the same source of contamination. They found patients in eight states- Arizona (1), Iowa (6), Kansas (6), Missouri (9), Nebraska (26), New Hampshire (1), Oklahoma (1), South Dakota (13)

During interviews with health officials, most of these patients said they ate alfalfa sprouts before they became sick. Many remembered the name of the stores and restaurants where they purchased alfalfa sprouts (or meals containing them) before they developed symptoms of a Salmonella infection. Two of the remembered purchasing SunSprout alfalfa sprouts.

The FDA traced back the company that supplied sprouts to these establishments and determined that alfalfa sprouts produced by SunSprout of Fremont, Nebraska were the likely source of this outbreak. SunSprout then issued a recall for two lots of alfalfa sprouts that were distributed to grocery stores and restaurants. The recall was later expanded.

The FDA Inspection

The FDA inspected SunSprout’s facility, located at 13315 A Street, Omaha, Nebraska, from December 28, 2022, through January 6, 2023, according to the letter. Inspectors found four violations:

  • Failure to test spent irrigation water for Salmonella
  • Failure to test spent irrigation water for E. coli
  • Failure to clean and sanitize food contact surfaces.
  • Failure to have one employee who has completed food safety training.

The letter was dated May 30, 2023. The company has 15 days to respond to the FDA.

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Category: Food Poisoning, Salmonella
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