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Salmonella found in health food powder sickens 21 in US

Salmonella has been found in a health food powder, spurring product recalls in the United States and the launch of a multistate health investigation, federal officials said on Friday.

Chia seed powder, commonly used in smoothies and snacks for its nutritional value, has sickened at least 21 people across the country.

“It is the first time that chia powder has been identified as a food that transmits salmonella,” said Dr. Laura Gieraltowski, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention investigator.

Salmonella, the most common foodborne illness usually found in meat and egg products, makes about 1.2 million people in the U.S. sick and results in 450 deaths each year, according to the CDC.

The number of chia-linked salmonella outbreaks is extremely low compared with illnesses caused by other foods. However, the powder’s long shelf life and small serving size could mean that more people are getting ill but do not realize it, Gieraltowski said.

Many of those sickened reported having vegan, vegetarian or largely organic diets, Gieraltowski said.