September 2, 2014

Jimmy John’s Putting Sprouts Back on the Menu

According to a post on his Facebook page, the owner of Jimmy John’s restaurant chain is putting sprouts back on the menu. He said, “I am rolling out a new sprout. Costs more for me, it’s tougher to manage, but we think we hit a homerun on this one.”

Recalls of contaminated sprouts and food poisoning outbreaks linked to sprouts have become so common that they have been nicknamed “sproutbreaks”. There have been nine major sprout recalls in the last 10 months in the United States.

Food safety experts say that sprouts are inherently dangerous because the pathogenic bacteria become encapsulated in the seeds as they are formed, which means cleaning the seeds before sprouting them is ineffective. The warm, moist environment in which seeds sprouts is the perfect culture for bacterial growth.

In March, Lieutenant Commander Rajal Mody, the doctor who works in the Enteric Diseases Epidemiology Branch at the CDC, made a video about why people should not consume raw sprouts. He states that “no available method [to decontaminate seeds] has proved completely effective.” He added, “sprouts can make even young and healthy people ill.” The CDC recommends that children, older adults, pregnant women, and persons with weakened immune systems should avoid eating raw sprouts of any kind. They also say that raw sprouts should be thoroughly cooked before consuming.

It will be interesting to see if Jimmy John has managed to produce a safe sprout. We’ll be watching.

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