All News / Outbreaks /

Sprouts recalled: salmonella outbreaks not uncommon, could be prevented

HELENA, MT — Montana sprout producer Down to Earth Sprouts recalled alfalfa sprouts and mixed spicy sprouts on Thursday after discovering they were potentially contaminated with Salmonella bacteria. The sprouts were grown from alfalfa seeds supplied by a producer whose seeds were recently linked to sprout recalls for potential Salmonella contamination in five states.

In early June, The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned consumers of the dangers of consuming raw sprouts after twelve people in Washington and Oregon were confirmed to be ill with Salmonella infections linked to alfalfa sprouts. The sprouts implicated in that outbreak were produced by Sprouters Northwest Inc., a Kent, Washington firm.

“Sprouts have been implicated in an increasing number of foodborne illness outbreaks in recent years, and although procedures have been developed to significantly reduce bacterial contamination, not all sprout growers have adopted techniques to decrease the risk of contaminated produce,” said William Marler, Managing partner of Marler Clark, the Seattle food safety law firm.

In 1999, the FDA announced new guidelines for the growing of sprouts, including using calcium hypochlorite treatment on seeds. This treatment exposes seeds to high levels of chlorine, killing bacteria, but leaving seeds unharmed. Since its introduction, manufacturers who consistently use this seed disinfectant treatment have not been implicated in foodborne illness outbreaks.

“Outbreaks related to not only sprouts, but to produce in general, have been on the rise in recent years. Producers of fresh produce should be implementing safeguards that protect their consumers and, therefore, themselves.” Marler continued. Marler Clark represents victims of two outbreaks linked to sprouts produced by Harmony Farms, an Auburn, Washington, firm, and has also litigated against Hydro-Harvest and Pacific Coast Sprout Farms on behalf of Salmonella victims.

Salmonella is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail, and elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. A small number of people infected with Salmonella will develop pains in their joints, irritation of the eyes, and painful urination – a condition known as Reiter’s syndrome. This condition can last for months or years, and can lead to chronic arthritis, which is difficult to treat.


BACKGROUND: Marler Clark has extensive experience representing victims of foodborne illnesses. William Marler represented Brianne Kiner in her $15.6 million E. coli settlement with Jack in the Box in 1993. In 1998, Marler Clark resolved the Odwalla Juice E. coli outbreak for the five families whose children developed HUS and were severely injured after consuming contaminated apple juice for $12 million. Marler Clark presently represents over 100 victims of Salmonella poisonings in several states. For more information on Salmonella, visit, or

Get Help

Affected by an outbreak or recall?

The team at Marler Clark is here to answer all your questions. Find out if you’re eligible for a lawsuit, what questions to ask your doctor, and more.

Get a free consultation
Related Resources
Salmonella Food Poisoning

What is Salmonella and how does it cause food poisoning? The term Salmonella refers to a specific group of gram-negative bacteria with the potential to cause gastrointestinal distress and other...

The Incidence of Salmonella Infections

Typhoidal Salmonella Salmonella enterica serotypes Typhi, Sendai, and Paratyphi A, B, or C are found exclusively in humans. These serotypes, collectively referred to as typhoidal Salmonella, cause enteric fever (also...

The Prevalence of Salmonella in Food and Elsewhere

Most Salmonella infections are caused by eating contaminated food. One study found that 87% of all confirmed cases of Salmonella are foodborne. Foods of animal origin, including meat, poultry, eggs...

Transmission of Salmonella Bacteria

In the past two decades, consumption of produce, especially sprouts, tomatoes, fruits, leafy greens, nuts, and nut butters, has been associated with Salmonella illnesses. The surface of fruits and vegetables...

Symptoms of Salmonella Infection

Symptoms of Salmonella infection include painful abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and fever. Salmonella infections can have a broad range of illness, from no symptoms to severe illness. The most common clinical...

Outbreak Database

Looking for a comprehensive list of outbreaks?

The team at Marler Clark is here to answer all your questions. Find out if you’re eligible for a lawsuit, what questions to ask your doctor, and more.

View Outbreak Database