Raw Alfalfa Sprouts and Salmonella


The Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began telling people in several states to keep away from eating raw alfalfa sprouts because they may be contaminated with salmonella. The contamination is in the seeds of the sprouts, so washing them will not help in this case.

The FDA is working with the alfalfa sprout industry to identify which seeds and sprouts may be contaminated and which ones may be safe to eat. So far there have been 31 Salmonella Saintpaul infections in Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Utah, and West Virginia. The sprouts were consumed at both restaurants and bought from retail outlets. The FDA believes this is an extension of a previous outbreak that occurred in February and March in Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa, Kansas, and Minnesota.

It has been noted that this FDA advisory is different than those in the past. In this case, the FDA issued the advisory as soon as the problem became apparent, rather than waiting to announce a recall.

As with all strains of salmonella, those infected suffer abdominal cramps, fever, diarrhea, and vomiting for 12 to 72 hours. Severe cases can also include fatigue and headaches.