July 2, 2011

Safety of Sprouts

Nan Jensen RD, LD/N Extension Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences, Pinellas County Extension

Sprouts have long been considered a healthy food low in calories, sodium and fat and filled with fiber, vitamins and health-promoting phytochemicals. Recently though they have come under fire because of the recent foodborne illness outbreaks in Germany. Since 1996, there have been at least 30 reported outbreaks of foodborne illness associated with different types of raw sprouts. The seed is typically the source of the bacteria in outbreaks associated with sprouts. Sprouts are produced by soaking the seeds in water and then putting them in a warm, moist environment for 3 to 7 days to encourage them to germinate and grow. These conditions are also ideal for the growth of bacteria, including Salmonella, Listeria, and E. coli.