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For Immediate
September 1, 1998

For more information:

  Children, the Elderly, and Immune-Compromised
Adults Should Avoid Sprouts Until the Industry
Works the “Bugs” Out

Statement of Caroline Smith DeWaal, Director of Food Safety, on FDA’s Warning on Sprout Consumption

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning yesterday that children and some adults should avoid eating alfalfa sprouts following a rash of outbreaks traced to sprouts in at least seventeen states since 1995. This summer, three outbreaks have occurred in California alone. Last summer, an E. coli outbreak linked to alfalfa sprouts sickened over 70 people and hospitalized 36. That outbreak was larger than the outbreak traced to Hudson beef, which resulted in the recall of 25 million pounds of hamburger. Caroline Smith DeWaal had the following remarks:

“It is high time that someone told consumers what public health officials already know: sprouts are no longer a safe food product for children, the elderly, and persons with compromised immune systems,” said Caroline Smith DeWaal, director of food safety for the Center for Science in the Public Interest. “FDA is to be commended for delivering this message.”

“While the sprout industry may be working hard to eliminate the risk, the solution will require both industry innovation and regulatory enforcement,” said DeWaal. “Until then, sprouts should be labeled as a high-risk food, similar to requirements for unpasteurized juice products.”


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