Alfalfa SproutsState and federal authorities have linked a salmonella outbreak that has sickened 21 people in five states to alfalfa sprouts and spicy sprouts, said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As of Monday, the 21 people sickened with salmonella enteritidis included three that had to be hospitalized; those sickened ranged in age from 12 to 77 years old and live in Idaho (3 people), Montana (7), North Dakota (1), New Jersey (1) and Washington (9), the CDC said. Investigators have linked the outbreak with alfalfa sprouts and spicy sprouts from Evergreen Produce Inc. of Idaho.The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned consumers Monday not to eat sprouts from the company. Nadine Scharf, co-owner of Evergreen Produce, told the Associated Press the company has stopped producing the sprouts and that the FDA didn't have enough evidence to tie the outbreak to the company's products. Evergreen Produce doesn't plan on issuing a recall.

The FDA said the possibly contaminated alfalfa sprouts and spicy sprouts were sold in 4-ounce and 16-ounce plastic bags as well as 1-pound and 5-pound bags labeled "Evergreen Produce" or "Evergreen Produce Inc."

Salmonella enteritidis is commonly found in poultry products though it can be found in other food products as well, including raw milk, pork, beef, sprouts and raw almonds. People who are sickened by a salmonella infection usually suffer from fever, diarrhea, cramps, nausea and vomiting and recover in about a week. Those most at risk are very young children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems.

The CDC recommended either returning the sprouts to the store where they were purchased or discarding them. The CDC also reminded consumers that thoroughly cooking sprouts will kill any harmful bacteria that may be on them. Since 1996, there have been 30 outbreaks of food-borne illnesses linked with raw or lightly cooked sprouts. Most of the outbreaks were caused by salmonella or e.coli bacteria.

And sprouts aren't the only product that have been recently linked to cases of food poisoning. Just this year, there have been food poisoning outbreaks linked to cantaloupe as well as turkey burgers.

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