Voluntary Recall of Raw Mung Bean Sprouts and Chop Suey Mix

Voluntary Recall of Raw Mung Bean Sprouts and Chop Suey Mix
Press Release
California Department of Health Services
Office of Public Affairs
August 23, 2000

SACRAMENTO - State Health Director Diana M. Bontá, R.N., Dr.P.H., today warned consumers not to eat raw mung bean sprouts with the label "Louie's Bean Sprouts-Fresh Daily" or "Louie's Chop Suey Mix-Fresh Daily" purchased before Aug. 18 because the product may be contaminated with Salmonella, a bacteria that causes human illness. This product was sold in supermarkets in the Fresno and Modesto areas. No illnesses associated with consuming this product have been reported to the California Department of Health Services (DHS).

The Fresno-based manufacturer has voluntarily recalled the bean sprouts, which were distributed to restaurants and grocery stores in the Fresno and Modesto areas in 1-pound bags and 12-ounce containers. It also was distributed to wholesalers in the Fresno and Modesto areas in 5-pound and 10-pound bags. The voluntary recall was based on positive tests for Salmonella conducted by a private laboratory as a component of the firm's food safety testing program.

Consumers who purchased the product should discard or return it to the place of purchase.

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 raw 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.

  • Individuals may unknowingly eat sprouts in sandwiches and salads purchased at restaurants and delicatessens.

Bontá advised consumers who wish to 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 can 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. Additional measures to reduce the risk of illness associated with sprouts are being investigated by industry and government, including irradiation of sprout seeds. These guidelines can be viewed on the FDA's Web.