With all the bad press in the news lately in regards to sprouts (especially bean sprouts), it’s only understandable that modern day consumers might be wondering whether or not they should be cutting them out of their diets altogether.
Since the mid-90’s, sprout consumption has been linked to upwards of 30 different outbreaks of food poisoning due to food borne bacteria. The majority of these outbreaks were associated with either E. coli or salmonella. In all cases, the resulting infections were associated with the consumption of sprouts that were either raw or only lightly cooked.
The typical source of the bacteria is usually the seed of the sprout. There are a number of practices, treatments, and techniques in existence that are capable of helping to kill any harmful bacteria that might be present. However, there is as yet no treatment or method that has been proven capable of killing all bacteria 100% of the time. The FDA and other health organisations all over the world are currently working on solutions to the problem.
What Consumers Can Do to Reduce Risk
While it isn’t necessary to completely eliminate sprouts from your diet altogether, it is important that you and your loved ones begin observing safer preparation, handling, and consumption practices.
Don’t eat raw sprouts or sprouts that are only lightly cooked. Fully cooked sprouts are fine, as they have undergone enough cooking to kill any bacteria present. If you’re eating out at a restaurant or deli, you should refrain from ordering options that come with raw sprouts.
Individuals at high risk for complications related to food borne illness should refrain from eating raw sprouts altogether. These individuals include young children 6 and under, the elderly, pregnant women, and anyone who suffers from a chronic illness or a compromised immune system.