Lesley Kennedy

Should You Say No to Sprouts?

Alfalfa Sprouts


It’s kind of hard to imagine a health-food nut who would just say no to sprouts, but not only are the seeds being dropped from restaurant menus, they even have a government food safety warning page of their own.


Eek! If you love sprouts, it’s definitely time to pout.


NPR reports all raw sprouts—think alfalfa, radish, mung bean and clover—have been the culprits behind “at least 30 outbreaks of illness” since 1996, according to food safety.gov.


What’s the deal? They “are usually to blame for harboring bacteria, and as they grow, the warmth and moisture helps the bacteria multiply quickly,” NPR reports, adding that alfalfa and spicy sprouts caused a Salmonella outbreak in the U.S. last June, and fenugreek sprouts caused an E. Coli 0104 outbreak in Europe last year that resulted in 50 deaths, not to mention a slew of illnesses.


Now, the news organization adds, Jason’s Deli, a chain with 230-plus locations nationwide, is dropping fresh sprouts from its menus.


“We’ve lost confidence in sprouts,” Jason’s public relations director Daniel Helfmantells produce trade journal The Packer, according to NPR.


So, for those of us who love a handful of sprouts on our turkey sandwiches, just how do we keep sprouts from, uh, sprouting bacteria-laden outbreaks? NPR says some believe using water that’s drinking-quality to grow them in could help, while others think they should be tested before hitting the market, and still others insist that using beta or gamma rays to irradiate them might work. That, of course, would need federal approval.


But, for now, NPR reports, food safety.gov says to, yep, stop with the sprouts, and “request that raw sprouts not be added to your food.”


Instead of raw sprouts, how about cooking up some good-for-you brussels sprouts, with these brussels sprouts recipes?



4 Responses to “Should You Say No to Sprouts?”

  • Karen says:

    Much of the problem is probably due to planting the seed in soil that is not sterile- soil with any
    bacteria can be dangerous. Even seed growing
    in sources other than the soil can result in the
    bacteria if the environment does not follow strict
    sanitation rules

  • Linda says:

    I have been growing my own from Mung Beans for years and have had no problem. Love them.

  • Lisa says:

    It is a crying shame but the root cause of all these outbreaks are sprout facilities who do not abide by the FDA guidelines.There are some sprout farms ( like the one I work at ) that has never had an outbreak and go above and beyond the guidelines put in place by all the auditing agencies. As long as they follow the 20,000 ppm seed sanitation and the GMPS and stuff this will all be resloved !! There are some really good srout farms out there..GO visit the farms you are buying the sprouts from !!!

  • Rita says:

    I use sprouts religiously because I raise my own personal sprouts and harvest them as needed. They are easy to raise and maybe restaurants should try raising their own sprouts too and that should help in controlling the problems of disease associated with the sprouts.

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