The Food and Drug
Administration has traced the source of the seeds suspected in a
multi-state outbreak of Salmonella Saintpaul from fresh alfalfa sprouts.
Caudill Seed Co., Louisville, Ky., has withdrawn all batches of seeds with
six-digit lot numbers beginning with “032.” The seeds, in 50-pound white
bags, were imported from Italy, Caudill spokesman Lyle Orwig said.
The bags are marked with
a white or yellow label displaying the seed distributor’s name.
Although the FDA has
identified seeds with these specific lot numbers, none of the
administration’s testing in Caudill’s facility has come back positive for
“What they’ve said to us
is the cases all led to sprouts, from multiple growers, and the common link
is seeds, but all testing on those lots are negative,” Orwig said. “We have
decided to do a voluntary recall in an abundance of caution.”
Orwig said the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention obtained information from affected
consumers about what they had eaten and where. That information led
investigators back to sprouts, which led back to growers, which led back to
“That lot was a common
denominator among the illnesses,” Orwig said.
There is no evidence
incriminating alfalfa seeds from other lots or the sprouts grown from them,
according to a news release.
The FDA recommends that
retailers, restaurant operators and personnel at foodservice facilities
verify with their suppliers that the sprouts or seeds provided do not come
from an affected lot.
The administration also
recommends sprout growers follow the guidance for the sprout industry,
which was developed in 1999 to alleviate food safety issues with sprouts.
“If they adhere to the
FDA guidance, that’ll go a long way to help prevent any similar events in
the future,” Orwig said.
Orwig said from his
understanding, the outbreak wouldn’t have happened had the guidance been
strictly followed by growers. The FDA’s guidelines include treating seeds
prior to sprouting to reduce the likelihood of pathogens, as well as
testing spent irrigation water for salmonella and E. coli after the second
day of the four-day sprout growing process.
Orwig said seeds from the
032 lot that are still at the facility have been quarantined until the FDA
finishes its investigation. Meanwhile, recalled seeds should be returned to
Orwig said Caudill has
other seeds to meet its customers’ needs.
“We’re replacing that lot
with other seed from our stocks that are not from that number,” Orwig said.
As far as future plans,
the company will wait until the investigation is finished and all available
information is in.
“We’ve got to get to the
bottom of it first,” Orwig said. “It’s an unfortunate situation, but our
concern is for the health and well-being of consumers in mind with our