Kansas State Health Officials Identify Sweetwater Farms Alfalfa Sprouts as Source of Salmonella Outbreak

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) confirmed that sprouts grown at Sweetwater Farms in Inman, Kansas are the source of a Salmonella outbreak that involves eight confirmed cases to date. In addition to the five cases confirmed in Kansas, three additional cases were identified in Oklahoma. The same strain of Salmonella was positively identified in each of the three linked Oklahoma cases.

As a result of the outbreak, Sweetwater Farms announced a voluntarily recall of alfalfa sprouts in lot number 042016. According to officials, sprouts in lot number 042016 were distributed to retail and foodservice outlets by wholesalers in an unknown number of states. John Hershberger, owner of Sweetwater Farms, said that the company shipped alfalfa sprouts from lot 042016 to wholesale buyers in the in the Oklahoma and Kansas City Areas. Those wholesale buyers then distributed the product to their respective customers.

Federal, State Officials Engage in Coordinated Site Inspection, Outbreak Investigation

Late last week, officials from KDHE and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspected Sweetwater Farms, and the FDA collected irrigation water for testing. The samples of irrigation water and product collected during the inspections late last week have tested positive for Salmonella bacteria, although the outbreak strain has not yet been identified.

KDHE recommends that consumers avoid all sprouts from Sweetwater Farms at this time, regardless of the product’s lot number, while various public health agencies continue to investigate the outbreak.

KDHE has been working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the FDA, the Oklahoma Department of Health to investigate the sprouts-related outbreak. The date of onset for the last reported case, which involves a Kansas man, occurred in late January. Due to the typical delay in reporting potential outbreak cases – according to the CDC, two weeks to a month after the date of onset on average – a number of additional outbreak cases may exist but are yet to be reported.

In addition to public health officials’ recommendation to avoid all sprouts grown at Sweetwater Farms’ facilities, the FDA and Centers for Disease Control both recommend that pregnant women, young children, the elderly, immunocompromised individuals and individuals with chronic health problems never eat raw sprouts, regardless of the sprouts’ origins and whether or not the sprouts have been recalled.

The most common symptoms of a Salmonella infection appear 12 to 72 hours after exposure to the bacteria and include diarrhea that may be bloody, abdominal cramps, fever, nausea and vomiting. The majority of individuals are sick for a period of four to seven days and recover without medical treatment. In some individuals, however, the infection becomes so severe that hospitalization is required. The most severe cases may result in death.

If you consumed any sprouts from Sweetwater Farms and experienced any of the symptoms listed above, see your doctor. Even though you may have fully recovered from the initial infection, there are very serious potential long-term effects of a single Salmonella infection. Such long-term effects may include Reiter’s Syndrome, which is associated with and has the ability to cause reactive arthritis, high blood pressure and irritable bowel syndrome among others.

For information about the Sweetwater Farms Salmonella outbreak and product recall or any other food poisoning outbreaks, call the lawyers at Ron Simon & Associates 1-888-335-4901.