Sprouts: What you should know for your safety

Think safety when eating sprouts.

Have you noticed that every so often, food borne illness is associated with sprouts? I often see articles in the news about people getting sick after eating them in salads or on sandwiche, and then wonder why they are still available at a salad bar!

Any produce that is eaten raw or only lightly cooked carries with it a risk of food-borne illness. Sprouts especially seem to be vulnerable because they need warmth and humidity to sprout, which is exactly what bacteria like Salmonella and E. coli need to grow. It’s no wonder sometimes food poisoning can occur!

There have been instances of sprouts causing outbreaks of food poisoning throughout the recent past, the last one being April, 2012. The companies selling sprouts cannot guarantee that all harmful bacteria will be eliminated, even on seeds that have been safely treated for bacteria, so it’s best to stay away from them. Since the bacteria are present on the seed, home-grown sprouts are no more safe than those coming from the store.

To reduce the risk of illness from sprouts

  • Cook sprouts thoroughly; cooking kills the bacteria so enjoy in cooked dishes.
  • People with weakened immune systems, such as the elderly, children and pregnant women, should avoid eating all kinds of sprouts.
  • If you are at a restaurant, ask that raw sprouts not be added to your salad or sandwich. If they are added, return it.

We all have the power to stay healthy. The more we know about food safety, the healthier we can be.

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