Food Safety Magazine

News | May 31, 2014

Salmonella Linked to Chia Powder Sickens 12 in Multistate Outbreak

By Heidi Parsons

Salmonella Linked to Chia Powder Sickens 12 in Multistate Outbreak

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced May 29 that it is investigating a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Newport infections linked to organic sprouted chia powder distributed by Navitas Naturals of Novato, CA. On Twelve cases have been reported in seven states, and one of those people has been hospitalized.

On May 28, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) notified the public that Navitas Naturals was voluntarily recalling three products containing the potentially contaminated powder, which is made from ground dried chia seeds:

  • Navitas Naturals Organic Sprouted Chia Powder, 8oz, UPC 858847000369 with best buy dates from 04/30/2015 through 09/05/2015
  • Navitas Naturals Omega Blend Sprouted Smoothie Mix, 8oz, UPC 858847000314 with best buy dates from 07/29/2015 through 09/19/2015
  • Williams-Sonoma Omega 3 Smoothie Mixer, 8 oz, SKU 506436 with best buy dates from 09/12/2015 through 10/02/2015

The FDA release stated that the company is working closely with FDA and California Department of Public Health on the recall and investigation. The CDC report noted that among persons for whom information is available, illness onset dates range from Jan. 21 to May 5, 2014. The CDC cautioned that because the recalled products have a long shelf-life and may still be in people’s homes, illnesses may continue to be reported.

UPDATE (June 2):  On May 30, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) notified the public that two Canadian companies, Advantage Health Matters and Back 2 the Garden, were recalling a variety of products containing organic sprouted chia seed powder, also due to possible Salmonella contamination.

On May 31, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) announced that it was collaborating with Provincial public health partners, the CFIA, and Health Canada to investigate nine Canadian cases of Salmonella infection linked to the consumption of dried sprouted chia seed powder. The strains identified in those cases were Salmonella Newport and Salmonella Hartford.

PHAC's announcement further specified:

In total, 9 cases have been reported in British Columbia (6), Alberta (1) and Quebec (2). One case was hospitalized and has recovered. No deaths have been reported. The investigation is ongoing but currently, 7 of 7 cases that have been interviewed have reported consumption of dried sprouted chia seed powder. More information on the epidemiological investigation is also available.

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 three sprouted chia seed powder products linked to their investigation.

On June 2, a CFIA spokesperson confirmed that there is a direct relationship between Canadian and U.S. outbreaks. She told Food Safety Magazine that the raw material associated with the recalls in both countries came from the same processing facility and the same incoming lot of chia seeds.