Sprout Seed Manufacturer Named in Amended Lawsuit

Litigation in the outbreak of Salmonella Saintpaul sourced to alfalfa sprouts has taken a new turn, as an amended lawsuit now names the alfalfa seed supplier, Caudill Seed Company of Kentucky. Certain batches of the seed are implicated in a multi-state outbreak that sickened over 150 people. The amended lawsuit was filed Tuesday on behalf of Nebraska resident Daniel Krim in Sarpy County, Nebraska, by foodborne illness law firm Marler Clark and by the Ausman Law firm of Omaha.

The original lawsuit was filed April 30 against CW Sprouts and a “John Doe” seed supplier. On May 1, Caudill withdrew certain batches of alfalfa seed which had been imported from Italy. Two sprout outbreaks of Salmonella Saintpaul with matching genetic fingerprints—one in February/March 2009 and one in April 2009—led health authorities to believe that seeds were the source of contamination.

“The entire chain from grower to distributor needs to chime in with real action on sprout safety,” said Krim’s attorney, Drew Falkenstein. “The supply cannot be made safe if any part of the system relies on the actions of the others to protect consumers.”

The CDC’s investigation of the April outbreak has confirmed 35 ill in Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Utah, and West Virginia. The February/March outbreak that sickened Daniel Krim was responsible for 121 illnesses in Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota. The two outbreaks are now considered as having the same source – Caudill seeds.

“Sprouts have a patchy safety record, at best,” continued Falkenstein. “Although some manufacturers have implemented the FDA guidelines for reducing contamination in sprouts, clearly not everyone has. We’ve seen more than 33 outbreaks sicken over 2000 Americans in the last 20 years, and that pattern won’t change unless everyone does their part.”