Epidemiology don’t matter; sprout grower says FDA’s E. coli tests are negative

From the epidemiology-doesn’t-count files, Idaho sprout grower Dave Scharf, owner of Evergreen Fresh Sprouts, says, “I have a clear conscious knowing my product is not what made people sick” after the Food and Drug Administration notified him that samples of his sprouts from a Jimmy John’s restaurant and seed at his growing operation did not test positive for the E. coli O121 that has sickened at least 10 people.

sprouts.sandwichThe negative test results don’t mean Scharf’s sprouts were not the cause of the illnesses, said Seattle food safety attorney Bill Marler, who is handling a case for Idaho resident Honey Sayler.

“It is not unusual for some samples to test negative,” Marler said June 2. “There are many different ways to prove a foodborne illness case and epidemiological (investigations) are admissible.”

Scharf said the FDA staff did not say when the remainder of test results are expected. He said his business is operating at about 50% capacity because of lagging orders.

“People are just running scared because of this,” Scharf said.

After all the sprout-related outbreaks, people are not scared, they’re being sensible.

A table of sprout-related outbreaks is available at: http://bites.ksu.edu/sprouts-associated-outbreaks