Salmonellosis Outbreak Associated with Raw Mung Bean Sprouts SproutNet

Salmonellosis Outbreak Associated with Raw Mung Bean Sprouts

April 25, 2000

California Department of Health Services Press Release, April 19, 2000

SACRAMENTO  — State Health Director Diana Bonta, R.N., Dr. P.H., today warned consumers not to eat Pacific Coast Sprout Farms brand raw mung bean sprouts purchased before April 18 because the product may be contaminated with Salmonella, a bacteria that causes human illness.  Forty-five cases of Salmonella Enteritidis, a foodborne illness, have been confirmed in Sacramento, Placer and Yolo counties.

The California Department of Health Services (DHS) and the Sacramento and Placer county health departments have linked this outbreak to mung bean sprout consumption.  The illnesses have occurred since March 26 and include 38 cases in Sacramento County, four in Placer County and three in Yolo County.  While most of the patients suffered diarrhea and cramping, two immunocompromised patients were hospitalized with bloodstream infections.

The manufacturer, located in Sacramento, has voluntarily recalled the bean sprouts, which were distributed to restaurants and grocery stores in Northern California and Reno area in 12 ounce and 16 ounce plastic bags and in bulk.

Bontá advised consumers who purchased raw bean sprouts with the label “Pacific Coast Sprout Farms” or raw mung bean sprouts from this manufacturer sold in bulk from supermarkets in Sacramento, Placer and Yolo counties prior to April 18 to discard or return them to the place of purchase.

This is the first reported outbreak of salmonellosis associated with raw mung bean sprouts in the United States.  Previous outbreaks have been associated with raw alfalfa and clover sprouts.

Salmonellosis is an acute bacterial infection commonly characterized by diarrhea and fever.  Symptoms usually develop within one to four days after eating contaminated food.  Most ill individuals recover without the need for medical attention.

Some individuals with salmonellosis develop serious illness that can lead to hospitalization and even death.  People who have eaten sprouts and develop symptoms should contact their doctor.

DHS and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) previously have issued consumer advisories regarding the potential risks associated with eating alfalfa and clover sprouts.  Children, the elderly and individuals with weakened immune systems should not eat any raw sprouts.  Healthy individuals
also can become ill from raw sprouts.

DHS officials emphasized that raw sprouts should not be served in day care centers, school lunch programs, nursing homes and hospitals.

Raw sprouts present unique food safety problems because: The warm, humid conditions needed to grow sprouts also are ideal for the rapid growth of harmful bacteria.

With the exception of bean sprouts, sprouts generally are eaten raw with no additional treatment, such as cooking, which would eliminate harmful bacteria.  Washing may reduce the bacterial load. However, it does not eliminate the harmful bacteria that may be present.  People may unknowingly eat sprouts in sandwiches and salads purchased at restaurants and delicatessens.

Bontá advised consumers who wish to generally reduce their risk of foodborne illness to specifically request that raw sprouts not be added to their food purchased at restaurants, delicatessens and other eating establishments.

Sprouts grown in the home also present a risk if eaten raw. Bontá also reminded consumers that harmful bacterial contamination may not change the appearance, texture or taste of any food product.

FDA also has issued guidelines for the sprout industry on recommended sprout production practices designed to reduce the risk of bacterial contamination.

Consumers with questions about the recall may phone Pacific Coast Sprout Farms at 916/381-6054





  • Mung Bean Sprouts, in 5 and 10-pound bulk bags, and in 12 and 16-ounce consumer size bags.  Recall #F-619-0.


  • All product on the market at the time of recall initiation.


  • Pacific Coast Sprout Farms, Inc., Sacramento, California.


  • Manufacturer, by letter, visit, fax, telephone, e-mail, television and radio announcements beginning on April 18, 2000.  A news release was issued by California Department of Health Services (CDHS) dated April 19, 2000, and subsequent press releases by the firm to Oregon and Nevada.
  • Firm-initiated recall complete.


  • Nevada and Oregon.


  • Firm estimates none remains on the market.


  • Product was epidemiologically linked with a Salmonella Enteritidis outbreak.


Contaminated Food Makes Millions Ill Despite Advances


March 18, 2001


997. As a result, the F.D.A. inspects less than 1 percent of all imported foods, according to the General Accounting Office. It is all but inevitable, health officials say, that at least some of those imports will be contaminated. Last April, a California bean sprout grower, Pacific Coast Sprout Farms, shipped in seeds from China and Australia. Germinated in warehouse- sized shelters, the sprouts caused a salmonella outbreak from Oregon to Massachusetts. At least 67 people fell ill, 17 of whom sought treatment in hospitals.


Not only were the imported seeds contaminated, health officials say, but the company grew them using only a tenth of the amount of cleansing agent recommended by the F.D.A. And although the company found evidence of contamination before sending the sprouts to market, it did not order a recall until after an outbreak had spread.