State health officials are investigating an outbreak of E. coli associated with alfalfa sprouts and said Wednesday that consumers, retailers and restaurants for the time being should avoid using sprouts from a Wisconsin producer called Jack & the Green Sprouts.
Seven Minnesotans have become ill with the disease since late January — four in the Twin Cities and three in rural Minnesota. Two required hospital care but all have recovered. An additional two cases have been reported in Wisconsin.
The Minnesota Department of Health is continuing its investigation but said no other products from the Wisconsin company appear to be involved.
The seven Minnesota cases and at least one of the Wisconsin cases were exposed to implicated alfalfa sprouts at a variety of locations, including grocery stores and food co-ops, restaurants, salad bars and commercial food services, the department said.
Jack & The Green Sprouts is located in River Falls, Wis., and distributes alfalfa sprouts to states in the upper Midwest and possibly other states.
Raw alfalfa sprouts are a known risk for foodborne illnesses, and health officials said they should be avoided by children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with weak immune systems.
Typical symptoms of E. coli 0157 include stomach cramps and diarrhea, and patients typically become ill two to five days after being exposed. Most people recover in five to 10 days, the Health Department said, but the illness can lead to serious kidney problems and even death.