Alfalfa Sprouts Listeria Recall, Pregnant Women Warned

Sprouts have always been the very model of health food. Ironically enough, they are also one of the leading carriers of food-borne bacteria. Over the weekend, Listeria Monocytogenes, the bacteria that causes Listeriosis, was found in a number of consumer packages of sprouts. This discovery has resulted in a recall of the producer’s alfalfa sprouts products, which are sold in the Northeast U.S. under several different brand names.

Listeria is quite rare and not a risk for most people. But it is one of the more dangerous bacteria for pregnant women. Exposure to listeria can lead to miscarriage and stillbirth, so it’s extra important for pregnant women to be informed of outbreaks and steer clear of affected foods.

See the details including specific state and product information after the jump.

From FDA.gov:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — July 29, 2010 – Specialty Farms is voluntarily recalling certain Alfalfa sprout products with a best if sold by date of “8/3/2010″ and “8/1/2010″ that has the potential to be contaminated with Listeria Monocytogenes (LM). Listeria Monocytogenes is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Lm infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

Specialty-Farms, LLC is voluntarily recalling Specialty Farms brand Organic Alfalfa Sprouts Blend and Organic Sprout Salad, 4 ounces plastic containers, both have a best if sold by date of 8/3/2010 as noted below:

Brand    Item Description    UPC
Specialty Farms    Organic Alfalfa Sprouts Blend    509800108
Specialty Farms    Organic Sprout Salad    8192400024

Specialty-Farms, LLC is also voluntarily recalling Stop & Shop brand Natures Promise Organic Alfalfa Sprouts 4 ounce container and 8 ounce bag and Natures Promise Organic Zesty Sprouts 4 ounce, best if sold by date of 8/1/2010, as noted below. [Further identification on the package includes the following: Certified Organic by NOFA-NY, Certified Organic LLC.]

Natures Promise    Organic Alfalfa Sprouts (4 oz)    8826704741
Natures Promise    Organic Alfalfa Sprouts (8 oz)    8826704102
Natures Promise    Organic Zesty Sprouts (4 oz)    8826703903

The products have been distributed thru distributors and to retail stores in CT, NH, MA, ME, NJ, NY, PA, RI, VT.

Specialty-Farms, LLC voluntarily recalled sprouts on July 29, 2010 after laboratory analysis found positive results from retail samples. No illnesses have been reported.

All products dated 8/4/2010 and beyond are not included in this recall

Specialty-Farms, LLC is currently in the process of determining exactly where this potential LM contamination could be occurring in its facility and is immediately remedying the potential sources as they are identified. Specialty Farms, LLC hopes to return to full sprout production soon.

Consumers who have purchased this product are urged to return them to the point of purchase for refund and may contact Specialty-Farms, LLC with questions at (203) 366-6919 between the hours of 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. EST.

Why are sprouts so prone to listeria, anyway? Here’s the scoop from Foodsafety.gov:  “Unlike other fresh produce, seeds and beans need warm and humid conditions to sprout and grow. These conditions are also ideal for the growth of bacteria, including Salmonella, Listeria, and E. coli.” The food safety site recommends that pregnant women avoid sprouts altogether for this reason. I enjoy the odd sprout myself, but I did get a little skeeved out by them when I read this. Now if only restaurants wouldn’t insist on putting them in every single “healthy” sandwich on the menu.

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