Salmonella in sprouts — the sickies surface

Bureaucrats think they’re so clever, parsing their words just so rather than saying, this is what we know, this is what we don’t know, this is what we’re doing to figure things out.

On Aug. 9, 2009, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency announced that it and Sunsprout Natural Foods were warning the public not to consume certain varieties of Sprouts Alive and Sun Sprout brands that contain onion sprouts because they may be contaminated with Salmonella and that, “There are no confirmed illnesses associated with the consumption of these products.”

The “no confirmed illness bit” is apparently CFIA code for, we have epidemiological evidence there’s a bunch of sick people but we’re awaiting further tests.

The sick have surfaced.

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) reported yesterday they are investigating an outbreak of Salmonella Cubana involving 12 cases across two provinces (7 in Ontario and 5 in Alberta).

Among the 12 persons with known illness onset dates, illnesses began between April  15, 2009  and July 26, 2009.

A few of the people who became ill have reported eating sprouts.  PHAC is working with local/provincial public health authorities and CFIA to gather more specific information on the type of sprouts and to try to determine the source of illness in the remaining cases.

Why can’t bureaucrats at the alphabet soup of agencies – CFIA, HC, PHAC – just keep things straightforward? Maybe even explain the protocols for informing the public of health risks?

(The images are from a video that Christian and Heather put together a few years ago as the invitation to a Christmas party for my lab. Sprouts and raw milk. Yum.)