More than 20 people have been sickened in the US and Canada due to Salmonella linked to chia powder.
12 people have been infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Newport from seven states, said the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In Canada, two strains have been identified associated with the outbreak: Salmonella Newport and Salmonella Hartford, said the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).
PHAC said it is working with Provincial public health partners, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and Health Canada to investigate nine cases of Salmonella infection linked to dried sprouted chia seed powder.
Sprouted chia seed powder is made from ground, dried chia seeds.
CDC said one person has been hospitalised and Arizona (1), California (2), Connecticut (1), Massachusetts (1), New York (4), Utah (1), and Wisconsin (2) have reported illnesses.
Organic sprouted chia powder distributed by Navitas Naturals of Novato, California is the likely source of this outbreak, said the agency.
Recalled products include Navitas Naturals Organic Sprouted Chia Powder , Navitas Naturals Omega Blend Sprouted Smoothie Mix, and Williams-Sonoma Omega 3 Smoothie Mixer.
According to available information dates that illnesses began range from January 21, to May 5. Ill people range from 4 to 71 years, with a median age of 48 and 58% are female.
Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis ( PFGE) is being used to identify cases of illness that may be part of the outbreak and the PFGE pattern has never been seen before in PulseNet, the subtyping network of public health and food regulatory agency laboratories coordinated by CDC.
Zach Adelman, chief executive officer of Navitas Naturals, said its top priority is the health and wellbeing of customers.
“We have produced and sold hundreds of thousands of packages of Organic Sprouted Chia Powder over the last six years, this is the first concern we have had on this product,” he said.
“We take our responsibility to consumers very seriously and we are working diligently to identify the source of the Salmonella - so we can take all the steps necessary to correct the problem and ensure it does not happen again.
“We take great pride in our products and deeply regret any illness our products may have caused.”
The cases in Canada are in British Columbia (6), Alberta (1) and Quebec (2). One case was hospitalized and has recovered.
Advantage Health Matters and Back 2 the Garden are recalling various products containing sprouted chia seeds due to possible Salmonella contamination, said the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).
The recall was triggered by findings by the CFIA during its investigation into the foodborne illness outbreak.
Both agencies warned that the products have a long shelf life and may still be in people’s homes.