Examples of Reported Outbreaks of Foodborne Disease Associated with Seed Sprouts

Note: There are 10 tables in this chapter.  They can be found athttp://www.fda.gov/Food/ScienceResearch/ResearchAreas/SafePracticesforFoodProcesses/ucm091270.htm .  Only Table 0-4, which relates to sprouts is included here.


U. S. Food and Drug Administration
Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
September 30, 2001


Analysis and Evaluation of Preventive Control Measures for the Control and
Reduction/Elimination of Microbial Hazards on Fresh and Fresh-Cut Produce

 

Chapter IV

Outbreaks Associated with Fresh Produce:
Incidence, Growth, and Survival of Pathogens in Fresh and Fresh-Cut Produce

 

Table O-4: Examples of Reported Outbreaks of Foodborne Disease Associated with Seed Sprouts

Pathogen

Year

Location

Seed Source

Type of Sprout

No. of Cases

No. of Deaths

Isolated from Sprouts/Seeds

Comments

Reference

Bacillus cereus

1973

Texas

Uganda (soy), Holland (cress), and Denmark (mustard)

Soy, mustard, and cress

4

0

Yes/Yes

Sprouted from a home seed sprouting kit.

Portnoy and others 1976

Escherichia coli O157:H7

1996

Japan

NRa

Radish

6561 (101 with HUSb), 160 secondary cases

2

No/No

Contamination route unknown.

WHO, Weekly Epidemiological Record 1996a, 1996b

E. coli O157:H7

1997

Japan

NR

Radish

126

0

Yes/No

The pathogen was isolated from leftover sprouts in the refrigerator but not the seeds from the same seed lots.

See Feng 1997; Taormina and others 1999

E. coli O157:H7

1997

Michigan and Virginia

NR

Alfalfa

108

0

NR/NR

Sprouts were sprouted from same seed lot in both states.

CDC 1997d

E. coli O157:NM

1998

California

California and Nevada

Clover / Alfalfa

8

0

Yes/No

Sprouts were traced to a single sprouter. Contaminated seeds suspected (same sprouter as 1997-98 S.Senftenberg outbreak).

Farrar; pers comm; unreferenced; Taormina and others 1999

Salmonella Bovismorbificans

1994

Sweden and Finland

Australia

Alfalfa

595

0

Yes/No

Contaminated seeds came from the same seed lot and importer.

Ponka and others 1995

S. Enteriditis

(Note from SproutNet: this was S. Enteriditis PT 11B)

2000

Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada

China

Alfalfa (Note from SproutNet: This should be mung, not alfalfa)

8

0

NR/NR

Outbreaks occurred at 5 Vietnamese restaurants. Sprouts came from 2 growers who received seeds imported from China.

Farber 2000; personal communication; unreferenced

S. Enteriditis

2000

California

China

Mung

45

0

No/No

Cluster of illness linked to 3 Vietnamese restaurants. S. Enteriditis isolated from environment at sprouter.

California Dept. Health Services 2000; Farrar; pers comm; unreferenced

S. Gold-Coast

1989

U.K.

The Netherlands

Cress

31

0

Yes/No

Contaminated seed and/or sprouter.

Feng 1997; Taormina and others 1999

S. Havana

1998

California and Arizona

NR

Alfalfa

14 (California) 4 (Arizona)

1

No/Yes

Sprouts were traced to a single producer. Seeds obtained from the same lot yielded sprouts from which S. Havana was cultured.

Backer and others 2000

S. Havana / Cubana / Tennessee

1998

California

California

Alfalfa

34

0

Yes/Yes

Contaminated seeds were suspected.

Farrar; pers comm; unreferencd; Taormina and others 1999

S. Infantis and S. Anatum

1997

Kansas and Missouri

Unknown

Alfalfa

109

0

NR/NR

Seeds were believed to be contaminated.

Feng 1997; Taormina and others 1999

S. Mbandaka

1999

Oregon, California, Idaho, and Washington

California

Alfalfa

Appx. 68

0

Yes/Yes

Seeds were believed to come from the same lot and distributed to various growers in California, Florida, and Washington. No cases in Florida.

Farrar; personal communication; unreferenced

S. Meleagridis

1997

Canada

Unknown

Alfalfa

124

0

NR/NR

Sprouts were organically grown with no chlorine pre-soak.

See Feng 1997; Farber 2000; pers comm; unreferenced

S. Montevideo and S. Meleagridis

1996

California

California

Alfalfa

>500

1

Yes/No

The sprouts were traced to a specific sprouter. Seeds traced to single California seed grower. Contaminated seeds suspected.

Taormina and others 1999; Farrar; pers comm; unreferenced

S. Newport

1995

Denmark (probably US and Canada)

The Netherlands

Alfalfa

154

0

Yes/Yes

Seeds came from the same shipper as US/Canada outbreak (see below). Source of contamination unknown.

See Feng 1997; Farber 2000; personal communication; unreferenced

S. Newport

1995-96

British Columbia, Canada, Oregon (probably Georgia and Vermont) and Denmark

The Netherlands

Alfalfa

133

0

Yes/Yes

Organism isolated were indistinguishable form the Denmark outbreak (see above).

See Feng 1997; Taormina and others 1999

S. Paratyphi B var. Java

1999

Alberta, British Columbia, and Saskatchewan, Canada

Unknown

Alfalfa

46

0

NR/NR

Spouts were from the same brand or common seed source.

Farber 2000; personal communication; unreferenced

S. Saint-Paul

1988

U.K.

Thailand and Australia

Mung

143

0

Yes/Yes

Multiple serovars isolated from bean spouts, seeds, and environmental samples (from producer waste materials).

O'Mahony and others 1990

S. Saint-Paul
S. Havana
S. Muenchen

1988

Sweden

NR

Mung

148

0

Yes/NR

Probably same seeds as UK outbreak. S. Havana and S. Muenchen but not S. Saint-Paul isolated from sprouts.

See Nguyen-the and Carlin 2000; See O'Mahony and others 1990

S. Senftenberg

1997-98

California

5 US states

Alfalfa and clover sprouts

52

0

Yes/No

Sprouts were traced to a specific sprouter. Contaminated seeds suspected. Same sprouter as 1998 E. coli O157:NM outbreak.

Jeff Farrar; pers comm; unreferenced; Taormina and others 1999

S. Stanley

1995

Multistate, US, Canada and Finland

The Netherlands

Alfalfa

>272

0

No/No

Seeds came from the same sprouter. At least 4 seed lots involved. Possible contamination occurred prior to shipping.

Mahon and others 1997

S. Virchow

1988

U.K.

Thailand and Australia

Mung

7

0

Yes/NR

Probably from the same outbreak as S. Saint-Paul in UK.

O'Mahony and others 1990

Yersinia enterolitica

1982

Pennsylvania

Unknown

Bean sprouts

16

0

NR/NR

Bean sprouts were immersed at home in well water contaminated with Yersinia.

See Cover and Aber 1989

a NR, not reported
b Hemolytic uremic syndrome