State Traces Salmonella Outbreak to Sprouts

State Traces Salmonella Outbreak to Sprouts

Kansas Department of Health & Environment
June 4, 1997

Contact: Don Brown 913-296-1529

Kansas Department of Health and Environment officials today reported sprouts have been definitively linked to the outbreak of 79 cases of Salmonella infantis and Salmonella anatum in Kansas and Missouri.

Laboratory results confirm the Salmonella bacteria isolated from the First Harvest sprout growing facility in Kansas City,Kansas, are the same serotypes as the Salmonella isolated from cases reported to the department. Additional testing to match DNA of the bacteria is planned.

The linking of the sprouts and the Salmonellosis illnesses intensifies the department’s concern that First Harvest sprouts be disposed of by restaurants, grocery stores, delicatessens and customers. The sprouts are generally sold to food service operations but some may be sold at a retail level.

The Food and Drug Administration is still working to produce a customer list. First Harvest sold its sprouts through wholesalers and directly to food service operations.

While most of the salmonella cases have been centered in the Kansas City metro and Northeast Kansas areas, cases have been reported in Reno,Harvey, Sedgwick, and Shawnee counties. Because public health officials do not yet have a complete customer list, restaurants and other food services throughout Kansas should check the source of their sprouts and dispose of sprouts in First Harvest packaging or in packages of unknown origin.

The sprouts are packaged in four ounce cups for retail sale. The cups have a First Harvest label on them. The sprouts are also sold to wholesalers, food services, and grocery stores in two pound and five pound unlabeled bags. The five pound bags may be shipped in a cardboard box that bears the First Harvest label.

As long as First Harvest sprouts remain available, the risk of exposure to Salmonella poisoning continues. The company is cooperating with KDHE food inspectors who have embargoed sprouts currently growing at its facility.




June 5, 1997

from ProMed


Consumption of contaminated sprouts has been linked to an outbreak of 79 cases of Salmonella infantis and S. anatum in Kansas and Missouri.


Laboratory results confirmed the isolation of Salmonella infantis and S. anatum from several different types of sprouts sampled at a growing facility in Kansas City, Kansas. PFGE tests on the sprout samples are pending. The product was recalled. A complete list of distributors and customers who received this product is being compiled by FDA agents.


We have evidence that the product may have had a limited distribution also in Nebraska, Iowa, and Oklahoma, whose state epidemiologists have already been alerted. The only outbreak-related confirmed cases reported so far are Missouri and Kansas residents, plus one Minnesota resident who traveled to Kansas a few days before illness.


The investigation is continuing to ascertain how the sprouts became contaminated. This outbreak has several interesting features (details will be provided at a later date), including a prolonged duration and the fact (already noticed in other sprout-related outbreaks) that only a minority of the cases recalled eating sprouts. The investigation has involved a remarkable team effort between Kansas and Missouri state and local health departments and state laboratories, the CDC Foodborne and Diarrheal Diseases Branch, the FDA, and the Minnesota Department of Health laboratory (where PFGE tests are being conducted). To all these people goes our appreciation for their support.