CDC renews sprout warning: Cook them or stay away to avoid salmonella, E. coli

Thursday, January 10th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

ATLANTA (AP) _ Federal health officials Thursday renewed warnings about the raw alfalfa sprouts often served on sandwiches and salads, saying they can be contaminated with salmonella or E. coli bacteria.

The sprouts should be thoroughly cooked to kill the bacteria, and some people should stay away altogether, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

The Food and Drug Administration warned Americans four years ago not to eat raw alfalfa, clover and other sprouts after hundreds of reports of bacteria-related illnesses.

The new warning came after a CDC investigation of a salmonella outbreak that sickened 32 people last year in California, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico. The outbreak, which caused diarrhea and urinary tract infections, was traced to a batch of raw alfalfa sprouts.

The CDC said even washed sprouts need to be fully cooked to kill any bacteria. People at higher risk for sickness _ children, the elderly and the chronically ill _ should avoid them altogether.