Outbreak of Salmonella infections related to sprouted chia seed powder

John DeMings
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Public Health Notice

This public health notice has been updated to include 10 additional cases and the identification of two new strains of Salmonella (S. oranienburg and S. saintpaul) that have been added to the investigation.

Health Canada

There are now 44 cases in four provinces (British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec) involved in this investigation and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has updated the food recall warning to include additional information for chia seed products.

The Public Health Agency of Canada is collaborating with provincial public health partners, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and Health Canada to investigate 44 Canadian cases of Salmonella infection linked to the consumption of sprouted chia seed powder.  Sprouted chia seed powder is made from ground, dried sprouted chia seeds.

As a part of this investigation, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has issued food recall warnings for various products containing sprouted chia seeds and sprouted chia seed powder under the brands Organic Traditions, Back 2 the Garden, Intuitive Path SuperFoods, Harmonic Arts Botanical Dispensary, Naturallyorganic, Pete's Gluten Free, Noorish Superfoods, and Madegood. These products have been recalled and are being removed from the marketplace due to possible Salmonella contamination.

The risk to Canadians is low, but those who have bought the recalled products sold under the recalled brands should not consume these products and should consult their health professional if they suspect they have symptoms of a Salmonella infection.

In Canada, four strains of Salmonella have been associated with this outbreak: Salmonella newport, Salmonella hartford, Salmonella oranienburg, and Salmonella saintpaul. In total, 44 cases have been reported in British Columbia (10), Alberta (5), Ontario (26) and Quebec (3). Six cases have been hospitalized; five cases have been discharged and have recovered or are recovering. The status of one case was not provided to the agency. No deaths have been reported.

The investigation is ongoing but currently, 26 of 26 cases that have been interviewed have reported consumption of chia seeds or sprouted chia seed powder, and 23 of 26 cases specifically report sprouted chia seed powder. 

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are also investigating similar cases of Salmonella, and have recalled sprouted chia seed powder products linked to their investigation.

The agency routinely investigates multi-provincial gastro-intestinal illness outbreaks, in an effort to determine if illnesses are linked to the same source.

The agency will update Canadians when new information becomes available.

Who is most at risk?

 

Anyone can become sick from salmonellosis, but infants, children, seniors and those with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of serious illness because their immune systems are less robust.

Most people who become ill from salmonellosis will recover fully after a few days.

It is possible for some people to be infected with the bacteria and not get sick or show any symptoms, but still be able to spread the infection to others.

What you should do

These products have a long shelf life and may still be in people's home. If you have these brands of dried sprouted chia seed powder products in your home, do not eat them. Recalled products should be thrown out or returned to the store where they were purchased. If you are unsure about the source of your sprouted chia seed product, do not consume it. Secure it in a plastic bag and throw it out. Then wash your hands thoroughly in warm soapy water.

Food contaminated with Salmonella may not look or smell spoiled but can still make you sick.

If you suspect you became ill from eating a recalled product, or another sprouted chia seed product, talk to your health care provider.

 

Symptoms

Symptoms of a Salmonella infection, called salmonellosis, typically start six to 72 hours after exposure to a contaminated product. Symptoms include diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, chills and headache.

These symptoms usually last four to seven days. In healthy people, salmonellosis often clears up without treatment. People who experience severe symptoms, or who have underlying medical conditions, should contact their health care providers if they suspect they have a Salmonella infection.

Organizations: Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Public Health Agency of Canada, Health Canada Food and Drug Administration United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC

Geographic location: British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario Quebec Canada

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