(UPDATED COVERAGE Nov. 25) Despite 63 people in 10 states contracting salmonella infections traced to a New York City supplier of fresh sprouts, Wonton Food Inc. has not issued a recall and federal officials apparently haven’t asked for one.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration reported the outbreaks Nov. 21 and 23, respectively. Illnesses began Sept. 30 and more than a fourth of them were admitted to hospitals. People continued to get sick through at least Nov. 8, but the outbreak is not considered over yet by the CDC.
No deaths have been reported, according to CDC and FDA.
No one from Wonton Foods Inc., Brooklyn, N.Y., immediately responded to calls for comment Nov. 24.
An FDA spokesman said there wasn’t a recall because “the sprouts that would have been on the market prior to the onset of the illnesses reported would have been beyond their shelf life.” Spokesman Doug Karas said the firm agreed to destroy all seeds and finished sprouts that were grown from the seed lots that had been in use at the time of the illnesses, but he did not indicate when that commitment was made.
“On Nov. 21 Wonton Foods Inc. said that it would stop the production and sale of mung bean sprouts and take other actions to prevent salmonella contamination,” according to the FDA’s report.
“The firm has reported that their last shipment of bean sprouts was on Nov. 18. FDA is continuing its investigation and will work with the firm on any required corrective actions.”
Retailers, foodservice operators and restaurants are warned by CDC and FDA to clean and sanitize any equipment that came into contact with any fresh sprouts from Wonton Food to avoid potential cross contaminations.
Wonton Food was the only common supplier of fresh sprouts to restaurants where some of the sick people ate. It was the sole supplier to two of the restaurants, according to the CDC. Wonton Foods packages fresh sprouts in 10-pound bags, according to its website. The company has production facilities in Brooklyn, Houston and Nashville, Tenn., according to the website.
The 63 people sickened with salmonella infections are in 10 states, according to the CDC. Those states are Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont. The one ill person from Montana traveled to the East during the period when likely exposure occurred.
Health officials have identified five illness clusters in three states for this outbreak, representing areas where people with no known connections except where they ate the suspect sprouts have become ill. All of the sick people in the clusters reported eating menu items with fresh sprouts during the week before they became ill. Those clusters are in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont.