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Year-End Flurry of Food Recalls, Illness

Sprouts, Parsley, Cilantro, Pastry, Cheese in Separate Recalls
By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Dec. 28, 2010 -- A nationwide recall of curly parsley and cilantro is the latest in a year-end flurry of food warnings and outbreaks of food-borne illness.

In the two most serious of these outbreaks:

  • At least 89 people in 15 states fell ill with salmonella infections after eating contaminated Alfalfa Sprouts and Spicy Sprouts from Tiny Greens Organic Farm of Urbana, Ill. Many of those who fell ill reported eating sandwiches at Jimmy John's restaurants.
  • 100 people became ill after eating pastries made by Rolf's Patisserie, a gourmet European bakery in Lincolnwood, Ill. Various desserts were shipped wholesale and repackaged by other retailers. Whole Foods has recalled gingerbread houses and a wide range of pastries, pot pies, and quiche originally made by Rolf's.

Parsley/Cilantro Recall -- Salmonella

In the latest recall, J&D Produce of Edinburg, Texas, has recalled its Little Bear brand curly parsley and cilantro. Tests of the products in Quebec, Canada and in Detroit detected salmonella contamination.

The items were packed from Nov. 30 to Dec. 6. According to the Associated Press, the company is also recalling other produce that came through its production lines on these dates: arugula, leeks, collards, curly mustard, gold beets, kale, green Swiss chard, plain mustard, plain parsley, kohlrabi, rainbow Swiss chard, mint, methi leaf, beets, daikon, red Swiss chard, turnips, turnip greens, and dill.

No known illnesses have yet been associated with this recall. J&D promises a full refund of any affected product.

Alfalfa Sprouts -- Salmonella

On Dec. 27, the FDA warned consumers not to eat Alfalfa Sprouts and Spicy Sprouts (a mix of alfalfa, radish, and clover sprouts) from Tiny Greens Organic Farm.

The preliminary results of a CDC/FDA investigation link many of the illnesses to sandwiches from Jimmy John's restaurant outlets. About half of the 89 cases reported as of Dec. 21 were in Illinois residents who ate at Jimmy John's. The restaurant has stopped putting sprouts on its sandwiches.

The sprouts were also distributed in 4-ounce and 5-pound containers to farmers markets, restaurants, and groceries in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, and possibly other states in the Midwest.

Illnesses from salmonella with the same DNA fingerprint as the outbreak strain have been identified in Connecticut, Washington D.C., Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Pastries -- Staph Toxin

On Christmas Eve, the Lincolnwood, Ill., bakery Rolf's Patisserie recalled products made after Nov. 1, 2010.

The products include tiramisu, cakes, cobblers, decorated cookies, tarts, pastries, and pies (including pot pies). Because these foods are sold wholesale, they may be repackaged by retailers under various labels.

The foods contain toxins produced by Staphylococcus aureus. Poisoning occurs from ingesting these toxins, not from Staph infection. Illness onset is usually within one to six hours after eating the contaminated food. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, and diarrhea. Severe cases are rare but may include headache, muscle cramps, and changes in blood pressure and pulse rate.

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