In the past 10 months, there have been many recalls of raw sprouts for bacterial contamination and one large outbreak linked to sprouts in Jimmy John’s sandwiches. The CDC advises many consumers to avoid raw sprouts altogether or to cook them thoroughly before consuming. Now a national grocery chain, Kroger, has decided to stop selling sprouts.
Payton Pruett, Kroger’s vice president of food safety, said in a statement, “after a thorough, science-based review, we have decided to voluntarily discontinue selling fresh sprouts. Testing and sanitizing by the growers and safe food handling by the consumer are the critical steps to protect against foodborne illness. Sprouts represent a unique challenge because pathogens may reside inside of seeds where they cannot be reached by the currently available processing interventions.”
Raw sprouts are a consistent source of bacterial pathogens. Barfblog has stated that there have been at least 55 sprout-associated outbreaks worldwide, sickening 15,233 people since 1998. While most people regard raw sprouts as a health food, they are uniquely susceptible to contamination. The way they are grown, in a warm, moist environment, is very conducive to bacterial growth. Dr. Raj Mody, infectious disease epidemiologist at the CDC, states that the sprouted seed is a perfect vehicle for pathogens, it’s difficult to grow safe sprouts, and sprouts have caused many foodborne illness outbreaks.
The store and its subsidiaries will stop selling sprouts on October 22, 2012. The stores that are part of the Kroger chain include City Market, Dillons, Jay C, Food 4 Less, Fred Meyer, Fry’s, King Soopers, QUC, Ralphs, and Smith’s.