Photo: Marekuliasz/Getty Images.The health world has long been having a love affair with chia seeds, and for good reason. They deliver maximum nutrition (from calcium to antioxidants to fiber to omega-3 fatty acids) with minimal calories. Adding chia-seed powder to food is considered a great, health-conscious move — but, right now, it’s a potentially dangerous one.
On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a warning to chia-seed powder consumers after 21 people in 12 different states contracted salmonella from the powder; two of these individuals were hospitalized. The cases were reported in New York, California, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin. The CDC also reported that some 34 additional salmonella cases connected to chia-seed powder are being investigated in Canada.
The recalled brands include Organic Traditions, Green Smoothie Girl, Navitas Naturals, and Williams-Sonoma. Double-check your pantry for these brands — especially since the powder has a long shelf-life and may have been hiding in your kitchen for a while. Although investigators are still looking into the connection between actual chia seeds and chia-seed powder, there's no indication that the whole chia seeds currently on the market pose any risk. Chia-seed powder is prepared by sprouting the seeds and then crushing the sprouts — and the ideal conditions for growing sprouts also happen to be best for growing pathogens, including salmonella.
Salmonella sufferers usually recover without any treatment within four to seven days of infection, but that's still not something you want to spend time doing. Symptoms strike 12 to 72 hours after infection and include fever, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea; the latter often sends sufferers to the hospital because of severe dehydration. Click through to the CDC for the story on the outbreak — and for now, stick with another, safer option in your morning smoothie.