FDA issues warning; grower won’t recall sprouts

This is why I don’t pay attention to government: for months, Americans have been told that under new legislation the U.S. Food and Drug Administration would have the authority to recall products.

Instead of a recall, FDA warned consumers yesterday not to eat alfalfa sprouts from Evergreen Produce because of possible salmonella contamination, which has apparently sickened 20.

According to The Packer, the owner of the company declined to recall her product until the agency could provide “hard evidence.”

(That’s what she said.)

Nadine Scharf owns 23-year-old Evergreen Produce Inc., Moyie, Idaho. She said June 27 that someone reported to health officials that they had gotten sick after eating Evergreen sprouts in recent weeks, but that there haven’t been any new illnesses reported since June 2.

“The FDA encouraged us to do a recall but I said I needed to see hard evidence that our sprouts were involved. They are down to only three cases now. It started out that they thought 20 people were sick, then they dropped that number to six and now it’s down to three. And they say it will be a week before any tests results will be available.”

Scharf said government officials took swab samples throughout her hydroponic growing operation, but she said the first batch of samples was sent to the wrong place. So, more swabs were taken and Scharf is still awaiting results.

In the meantime, she laid off half of her 14 employees and shut down production of her alfalfa and spicy sprout lines as a precautionary move.

“If I had the money I would be fighting what they (FDA and Idaho state health officials) have done,” Scharf said. “They have issued that statement and smeared us without any evidence.”

Scharf said Evergreen Produce always tests its seed lots before using them. The company has third-party water tests done three times each week.

“The military also comes in once every quarter for an audit and we always pass those without any problems,” Scharf said.