An E.coli outbreak that has sickened 10 people in Idaho and Washington state has been traced to raw clover sprouts from a producer in Idaho.
In a statement released Thursday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which has been working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as state and local officials in investigating the multistate outbreak, has issued warning against eating raw clover sprouts from Evergreen Fresh Sprouts of Moyie Springs, Idaho.
The agency said that the outbreak was traced to the Idaho producer following results of investigations that found 90 percent of those infected ate raw clover sprouts within ten days prior to them getting sick.
"FDA, the Washington State Department of Health (WDOH), and the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (IDHW) are warning consumers not to eat raw clover sprouts from Evergreen Fresh Sprouts LLC," the FDA said in a statement.
The CDC has meanwhile reported that as of May 21, there were seven cases of E.coli-linked illnesses in Washington state and three in Idaho and that the Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O121 or STEC O121 is responsible for the outbreak. Those who were infected started to show symptoms starting May 1 to May 13 and were between 22 and 45 years old.
"Preliminary traceback investigations indicate that contaminated raw clover sprouts produced by Evergreen Fresh Sprouts, LLC. of Idaho is the likely source of this outbreak of STEC O121 infections," CDC said.
The sprouts, which are served in sandwiches, were distributed in food outlets including Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwiches and Daanen's Deli, which have already voluntarily stopped serving the sprouts. The sprouts are also distributed in retail grocery stores where people buy them for consumption at home. Health officials advise those who have brought the Evergreen Fresh Produce sprouts to throw them away.
Most of those who get infected with STEC develop bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps and although patients often recover within a week, severe cases can lead to hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure. People who are most vulnerable to HUS are older adults, children below 5 years old and those who have weak immune systems.
Earlier this week, Michigan-based Wolverine Packing Company has also recalled nearly two million pounds of ground beef products for possible E.coli contamination. Ten individuals fell sick after eating in restaurants that source their ground beef from the company.