For related coverage from The Packer Jan. 4 see Two salmonella outbreaks, two sprout recalls.

(UPDATED COVERAGE, Dec. 30)
Two companies have voluntarily recalled produce after U.S. and Canadian health officials issued salmonella warnings.

A salmonella outbreak that sickened 94 in 16 states was linked to Tiny Greens brand alfalfa sprouts eaten at Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches outlets, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Dec. 28 in a news release.

The next day, Urbana, Ill.-based Tiny Greens Organic Farm recalled sprouts with five sell-by dates from Dec. 16 to Jan. 4. Product was distributed in Illinois, Indiana and Missouri, the company said, and could have ended up in restaurants and supermarkets in nearby states. The recall includes spicy sprouts, a mix of alfalfa sprouts with radish and clover sprouts.

Lot codes for both items were 348, 350 and 354. The company also recalled any product containing alfalfa sprouts with lot codes 305 through 348.

The grower said the outbreak’s source has not been identified.

“There is only a statistical association at this point to Tiny Greens alfalfa sprouts,” a company news release said. “The FDA and Tiny Greens are continuing to work closely together, sharing all data … to find the source of the problem.”

In a separate incident, Edinburg, Texas-based J&D Produce Inc. voluntarily recalled several of its Little Bear brand products in Canada after tests found salmonella in curly parsley in Quebec and cilantro in Detroit, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

No illnesses were reported there, but Canadian officials issued a health hazard alert to consumers Dec. 27.

On the same day, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration advised consumers not to eat Tiny Greens alfalfa sprouts.

Earlier in December, Jimmy John’s founder Jimmy John Liautaud told franchisees to stop serving the sprouts. Jimmy John’s is based in Champaign, Ill.

The illnesses were reported Nov. 1 to Dec. 27 and involved the same salmonella type. In Illinois, state health officials reported 58 cases.

In the J&D Produce action, recalled products include arugula, beets, cilantro, collards, curly parsley, curly mustard, daikon, dill, green Swiss chard, kale, kohlrabi, methi (fenugreek) leaf, plain parsley and red Swiss chard.

The commodities were packed Nov. 30 or Dec. 6 in red, white, and blue waxed cartons under the Little Bear brand. Bunches are banded by a rubber band or twist-tie with a flag tag that shows a bear with a cowboy hat, red handkerchief and a Texas flag. All products were distributed through retail stores and wholesale terminal markets.

After the test in Quebec, J&D Produce shut down and resanitized production lines, increased manual inspections and implemented further rinse steps, James Bassetti, the company’s president, said in a news release.

Bassetti said he’s brought in consultants to review and advise J&D Produce on its food safety protocols and additional micro-biological sampling.

“We will do a better job, and we’ve already begun improving our systems,” he said.

The alfalfa sprouts contamination linked to Tiny Greens Organic Farm is not a unique case. Since 1996, at least 30 foodborne illness outbreaks — mostly salmonella and E. coli — have been reported involving raw or lightly cooked sprouts, according to the FDA.

In May, Caldwell Fresh Foods, Maywood, Calif., recalled alfalfa sprouts after more than two dozen people in 10 states had been sickened with the same strain of salmonella.

Other companies recalled sprouts in July, August and October after testing confirmed salmonella or listeria, but illnesses were not linked to those cases.