January 21, 2018

More News About Sprouts

Raw sprouts are a major source of foodborne illness because of the way they are grown and sprouted. The FDA warns those in high risk groups to avoid raw sprouts altogether.

In just the last month, Food Poisoning Bulletin has told you about seven recalls and recall updates about this type of product.

  • December 23, 2011: Green Valley Food Corporation recalls 650 cases of alfalfa sprouts with Salmonella contamination.
  • December 24, 2011: The Green Valley alfalfa sprouts recall grows to 6,723 cases and expands to other sprout varieties.
  • January 1, 2012: The Green Valley Food Corp. recall of sprouts expands to include many more varieties. This story includes an explanation of why sprouts are so dangerous: bacteria are insidethe seeds, and the growing environment is the perfect setting for bacterial growth.
  • On January 4, 2012, Fenugreek sprouts were pinpointed as the cause of a large outbreak of E. coli illnesses in Frankfurt, Germany.
  • On January 4, 2012, the Green Valley Sprouts recall was expanded for a third time to include another type of sprouts.
  • On January 19, 2012, LEASA industries recalled 346 cases of alfalfa sprouts because they were potentially contaminated with Salmonella.
  • On January 19, 2012, Winn-Dixie stores expanded the LEASA sprouts recall to include all varieties of that company’s sprouts.

Now there are two more stories about sprouts in the news. The Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food (ACMSF), which advises the UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) questioned the safety in sprouts in general.

The groups were meeting in Brussels to talk about new control measures to prevent outbreaks similar to the E. coli 0104 outbreak in Germany and France last year that sickened 4321 people and killed 50. Almost 1,000 people in that outbreak developed Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS), a devastating illness.

Dr. Norman Simmons, a former ACMSF member said, “There is no doubt about it, sprouted seeds are a risk … nothing can be done to ensure the seeds are safe. I wouldn’t be surprised if the next outbreak is even bigger.” Scientists believe that irradiation may make the seeds free of bacterial contamination, but after that treatment, the seeds may not germinate.

And on January 24, 2012, the national restaurant chain Jason’s Deli will no longer serve sprouts in any of its 230 locations in 28 states for the rest of 2012 and possibly 2013. The chain pulled sprouts from its menu after the Green Valley recalls, even though the sprouts they had purchased from Green Valley weren’t included in the recall.

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