Food Safety Alert: International Outbreak of Salmonella in Sprouted Chia Powder

Twenty-one people in 12 states have been sickened and two hospitalized after eating sprouted chia powder contaminated with Salmonella bacteria. In Canada, 44 have become ill and five hospitalized. Sprouted chia powder is used as a gluten-free flour and is also sprinkled on breakfast cereal and other foods.

This food safety outbreak has prompted a voluntary recall of Organic Sprouted Chia Powder products produced by Health Matters America, Inc., of Cheektowaga, New York, and by Navitas Naturals of Novato, California. Their products were distributed to grocery and health food stores nationwide in both the U.S. and Canada. If you are concerned you have eaten a recalled product, or are experiencing symptoms similar to those caused by Salmonella, seek medical attention immediately.

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Overview: An outbreak of Salmonella Hartford, Oranienburg, and Newport has sickened 65 people in 12 U.S. states and four Canadian provinces, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC). Among those sickened, two people have required hospitalization in the U.S. and five in Canada. No deaths are reported from either country, although one Canadian remains hospitalized. The outbreak has prompted a voluntary recall of Organic Sprouted Chia Powder products produced by Health Matters America, Inc., of Cheektowaga, New York, and by Navitas Naturals of Novato, California.

The Investigation: An investigation into possible illnesses caused by contaminated product was conducted at the state, provincial, and federal levels in both the U.S. and Canada. To date, 21 people have been sickened in 12 U.S. states—Arizona (1), California (3), Colorado (1), Connecticut (3), Florida (1), Massachusetts (1), Michigan (1), New York (4), Ohio (1), Utah (1), Washington (1), and Wisconsin (3)—in addition to 44 people sickened in four Canadian provinces—British Columbia (10), Alberta (5), Ontario (26), and Quebec (3). Three strains of Salmonella have been implicated in this outbreak: Newport, Hartford, and Oranienburg; the majority of cases are due to Salmonella Hartford and Salmonella Newport, however two cases of Salmonella Oranienburg have been linked to this outbreak in the U.S. by the CDC. Cases in the U.S. were identified as part of the outbreak using CDC’s PulseNet through bacterial DNA “fingerprints.” Of those individuals known to be sickened in this outbreak, two have required hospitalization in the U.S., and five in Canada.

You can read the CDC investigation announcement here and the Public Health Agency of Canada’s investigation announcement here.

US Salmonella Outbreak Map

About Salmonella: Salmonella is a pathogenic bacteria and the cause of potentially deadly foodborne illness. Symptoms typically include diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, chills, and headache. In healthy people, those symptoms usually subside on their own, but in the young, elderly, or immune compromised, infections may be more severe and require medical assistance or hospitalization. If you are concerned you are suffering from Salmonella infection, seek medical attention immediately.

A full list of recalled products in the U.S. can be viewed here and here. Information on recalled products in Canada can be viewed here.

For Consumers: Recalled products were distributed to grocery and health food stores nationwide in both the U.S. and Canada. If you are concerned you have eaten a recalled product, or are experiencing symptoms similar to those caused by Salmonella, seek medical attention immediately. Products affected by this recall have a long shelf life, so check your cabinets for any products implicated in the recall. If you have purchased any recalled product, do not eat it: throw it away, or take it back to the store for a refund.

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