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January 5, 2011

01/06/11 The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a press release advising consumers not to eat Alfalfa Sprouts and Spicy Sprouts (which contain alfalfa sprouts mixed with radish and clover sprouts) from Tiny Greens Organic Farm of Urbana, Illinois. 

According to the FDA, preliminary results of the investigation of a multistate outbreak of Salmonella infections indicate a link to eating Tiny Greens’ Alfalfa Sprouts at Jimmy John’s restaurant outlets.  Indiana has 10 confirmed Salmonella cases associated with this outbreak.

The sprouts were distributed in 4 oz. and 5 lb. containers to various customers, including farmers’ markets, restaurants and groceries, in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, and possibly other Midwestern states. 

“Consumers should not eat Tiny Greens brand Alfalfa Sprouts or Spicy Sprouts,” said enteric epidemiologist Amie May.  “Restaurant and food service operators should not serve them. Consumers, retailers and others who have Tiny Greens Alfalfa Sprouts or Spicy Sprouts should throw them away in a sealed container so people and animals, including wild animals, cannot eat them.” 

According to May, most persons infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts four to seven days, and most persons recover without treatment. However, some individuals may require hospitalization from severe diarrhea. 

“Anyone who thinks they may have become ill from eating contaminated sprouts should consult their health care provider,” said May. “Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the blood stream and then to other body sites.  It can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics.” 

May says the elderly, infants and those with impaired immune systems are more likely to become severely ill from Salmonella infection.

The FDA is investigating the problem in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Indiana State Department of Health, and other states and is working with Tiny Greens. Jimmy John’s restaurants have voluntarily suspended serving sprouts at their Indiana franchise locations.

Sprouts are a known source of foodborne illness. Since 1996, there have been at least 30 reported outbreaks of foodborne illness associated with different types of raw and lightly cooked sprouts. Most of these outbreaks were caused by Salmonella and E. coli.

The FDA advises children, the elderly, pregnant women, and persons with weakened immune systems should avoid eating raw sprouts of any kind (including alfalfa, clover, radish and mung bean sprouts). To reduce the chance of foodborne illness, FDA advises consumers to cook sprouts thoroughly and to request raw sprouts not be added to your food.

For updates on this and other public health issues, follow the Indiana State Department of Health on Twitter at:, or go online for more info at: