A Nebraska company is recalling alfalfa sprouts sold in three states due to potential salmonella contamination as state health officials investigate a “cluster of gastrointestinal illnesses” caused by the bacteria.
SunSprout Enterprises, based in Fremont, Nebraska, announced Thursday that it is voluntarily recalling four lots of raw alfalfa sprouts.
The company said it distributed 1,406 pounds of product to five foodservice and grocery customers in Nebraska, Kansas, and Iowa from late November and mid-December. The produce was sold in 4-ounce clamshells and 2.5-pound packages with best sold buy dates between Dec. 10, 2022 and Jan. 7, 2023.
The recall is out of an "abundance of caution," the company said.
As of Thursday, 16 individuals reported falling ill and all reported they had consumed SunSprout brand alfalfa sprouts between Dec. 4 to 13 either at local restaurants or in their homes after purchasing it from local grocery stores, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services said Thursday.
Test results for eight of those individuals indicated salmonella infection, while seven others are awaiting confirmation, the department said on the investigation.
SunSprout said it has not received complaints or reports of illness due to the recalled product.
"This voluntary recall is a result of a preliminary investigation by the State of Nebraska in connection with CDC of an outbreak of illness likely associated with alfalfa sprouts," the company said.
SunSprout said it is further investigating how the sprouts were “handled and stored after it left its Nebraska facility.”
Salmonella infection is a common a bacterial disease that affects the intestinal tract. The organism can cause serious, and sometimes fatal infections in young children, the elderly or those with weakened immune systems. Healthy people infected with it typically experience fever, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Most people with salmonella infection recover within four to seven days without antibiotics, Nebraska's health department said.
State Epidemiologist Dr. Matthew Donahue praised local and state health officials for quickly narrowing down the cause of the illnesses.
"From the first individuals that reported illness to the state and local health departments that investigated further, to the sequencing performed rapidly at the Nebraska Public Health Laboratory, and to the national aid from CDC and FDA, statewide and national collaboration allowed us to narrow in on the suspect product as quickly as we did. This is a great example of public health at work," he said.
The investigation is ongoing.