UPDATED: Testing finds salmonella in locally grown sprouts; more tests show farm isn't sourceThe Minnesota Department of Agriculture sent a consumer advisory Thursday after routine safety testing revealed salmonella bacteria in a package of alfalfa sprouts grown by River Falls-based Jack & The Green Sprouts.
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture sent a consumer advisory Thursday after routine safety testing revealed salmonella bacteria in a package of alfalfa sprouts grown by River Falls-based Jack & The Green Sprouts.
MDA advised all consumers to throw away any of the alfalfa sprouts they may have.
Jack and the Green Sprouts owner Joe Manhoney said Friday, "We test everything before we release it."
He said the MDA pulled the sprouts it tested from a Twin Cities holding warehouse, where by Mahoney's standards, they'd already been sitting too long. Using his color-coded system, Mahoney quickly tracked the plant MDA said was contaminated and found it had been shipped from River Falls on Jan. 15 and 16.
Mahoney said the shelf life for alfalfa sprouts is two weeks.
He said those same alfalfa sprouts left his farm with negative test results. Since hearing from the MDA, Jack and the Green Sprouts conducted two more independent tests on everything at the farm: Its all-indoor growing area, wash tanks, bubbler, floor drains, corners, countertops, inside and outside machines, seeds and finished product.
All of them came back negative. Mahoney said no harmful bacteria were found on any of the other products his company grows including radish sprouts, broccoli sprouts, bean mix, sunflowers and wheat grass.
Mahoney feels confident the salmonella did not originate on the Jack and the Bean Sprouts farm. The plant must have become contaminated after shipping, possibly a case of cross contamination.
"Our facility is clean and we haven’t had any problem in 30 years," he said.
MDA and the Minnesota Department of Health says the bacteria found were salmonella diarizonae.
MDA worked with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection as well as the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture to investigate the contamination and remove the product from distribution and retail facilities.
According to a profile posted on Minneapolis’ Wedge Community Co-op Web site, farm owner Joe Mahoney is "a real pioneer in the local produce movement."
The site says Mahoney uses well water, certified organic seed, and "super-clean growing conditions."
Wedge noted that it receives deliveries from Mahoney’s farm twice weekly.
Consuming food contaminated with salmonella can cause abdominal cramping, diarrhea, and fever. Anyone who believes they may be ill as a result of eating a product contaminated with salmonella should contact a health care provider.