In 2011, Evergreen Fresh Sprouts was at the center of a salmonella outbreak liked to alfalfa sprouts and spicy sprouts, both of which are members of the sprout family that has a long history of contamination with food borne pathogens. In that outbreak, at least 112 victims were made ill after consuming alfalfa and spicy sprouts. Ironically, the founder of Jimmy John’s, Jimmy John Liautaud, made a corporate-wide recommendation to store owners to switch to clover sprouts in the aftermath of the 2011 outbreak linked to alfalfa and spicy sprouts, arguing that clover sprouts are easier to clean. Mr. Liautaud stated at the time “we are making the switch immediately in our corporate-owned stores and recommending all franchisees make the switch too because we believe it may decrease the chance for contamination.”
[Speak to a food poisoning lawyer about your food poisoning lawsuit.]
Now Evergreen Fresh Sprouts is again in the news, this time due to the presence of E. coli O121, which although not as commonly linked to outbreaks of food poisoning as E. coli O157:H7, has a similar effect on the human body, producing Shiga Toxin that leads to bloody diarrhea and, in some of the more susceptible victims, to Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS) which can lead to kidney failure and even death.
In this outbreak, at least 10 individuals have been sickened after eating at Jimmy John’s, Pita Pit, and Daanen’s Deli. The common supplier of raw clover sprouts for these locations is Evergreen Fresh Sprouts.
Sprouts Especially Susceptible to Contamination
The University of British Columbia’s Dr. Kevin Allen, a microbiologist, has recently confirmed what many already know, that sprouts are extremely susceptible to bacterial infection. Dr. Allen noted first that growing conditions needed for sprouts are also the growing conditions needed for sprouts, warmth and moisture. Dr. Allen decided to test the theory by examining 44 packages of prepackaged sprouts, and in so doing found that more than three in four of the packages had levels of microorganism that were too numerous to count. Scientists also know that it takes only100 Cells of E. coli are enough to sicken many thousands of consumers as E. coli cells can replicate every 15 minutes in the proper conditions.
Concurrent Recalls for Listeria – No Confirmed Cases of Human Illness
At the same time as the Evergreen Fresh Sprouts’ recall, a number of other “precautionary” recalls are taking place. A “precautionary” recall is initiated when there is evidence that a product may be contaminated with a pathogen, but no human illnesses have been identified. In these cases, the product is recalled out of an abundance of caution. In these “precautionary” recalls, however, agencies identified the highly dangerous Listeria bacteria, and knew the risk of selling the product to the consumer was too great. In Texas, the Texas Department of Health, while conducting routine testing of Target Archer Farms Traditional Hummus product, identified Listeria, leading Lansal Inc., the producer, to initiate a voluntary recall of its products.
The recall of Hummus also includes a number of Giant Eagle hummus products distributed in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and Maryland and Trader Joe’s 5 Layered Dip distributed in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio and Wisconsin. A larger recall of Trader Joe’s Edamame Hummus has also been issued, as was a recall of Tryst Yellow Lentil Hummus with Sunflower Seeds & Apricots.
In addition, routine U.S. Food and Drug Administration testing identified Listeria in walnuts, leading to Sherman Produce recalling 241 cases of bulk walnuts, packaged in 25 lb bulk cardboard boxes, and Schnucks brand 10 oz trays of walnuts with best by dates 03/15 and 04/15.
In each of these precautionary recalls, no human illnesses have been identified.