Multi-state Outbreak of Salmonella Newport Infections Linked to Organic Sprouted Chia Powder

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is collaborating with public health officials in several states and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Newport infections. Results from this ongoing investigation indicate that organic sprouted chia powder distributed by Navitas Naturals of Novato, Calif. is the likely source of this outbreak. Chia powder is made from ground dried chia seeds.

Public health investigators are using the PulseNet system to identify cases of illness that may be part of this outbreak. PulseNet, the national subtyping network of public health and food regulatory agency laboratories coordinated by CDC, obtains DNA "fingerprints" of Salmonella bacteria through diagnostic testing with pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) to identify cases of illness that may be part of this outbreak. This PFGE pattern has never been seen before in PulseNet.

A total of 12 ill persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Newport have been reported from seven states. The number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows: Arizona (1), California (2), Connecticut (1), Massachusetts (1), New York (4), Utah (1), and Wisconsin (2).

Among persons for whom information is available, dates that illnesses began range from Jan. 21, 2014 to May 5, 2014. Ill persons range in age from 4 years to 71 years, with a median age of 48 years. Fifty-eight percent of ill persons are female. Among 10 ill persons with available information, one (10 percent) reports being hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

This outbreak can be visually described with a chart showing the number of persons who became ill each day. This chart is called an epidemic curve or epi curve. Illnesses that occurred after May 8, 2014 might not yet be reported due to the time it takes between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported. This takes an average of 2 to 4 weeks. The recalled products containing organic sprouted chia powder have a long shelf-life and may still be in people’s homes, and illnesses may continue to be reported.

Epidemiologic and traceback findings have linked this outbreak of Salmonella infections to organic sprouted chia powder distributed by Navitas Naturals.

In interviews, ill persons answered questions about food eaten and other exposures in the week before becoming ill. Seven (100 percent) of seven persons interviewed reported eating chia powder. Six (86%) of these seven people reported eating the Navitas Naturals organic sprouted chia powder.

On May 28, 2014, Navitas Naturals recalledExternal Web Site Icon products that contain organic sprouted chia powder due to possible Salmonella contamination. The recalled products include Navitas Naturals Organic Sprouted Chia Powder, Navitas Naturals Omega Blend Sprouted Smoothie Mix, and Williams-Sonoma Omega 3 Smoothie Mixer. The recalled products are available for purchase in many retail stores and online.

Several samples of leftover organic sprouted chia powder from ill persons’ homes and unopened packages from retail locations are being tested for the presence of Salmonella bacteria. Results of this testing will be released when they become available.

CDC and state and local public health partners are continuing laboratory surveillance through PulseNet to identify additional ill persons and to interview ill persons about foods eaten before becoming ill. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is continuing to work closely with CDC and state partners in this investigation.

Source: CDC