Q & A - Are Sprouts Safe?

Updated: May 31





Since 1996, there have been at least 30 reported outbreaks of foodborne illness associated with different types of raw and lightly cooked sprouts. Most of these outbreaks were caused by Salmonella and E. coli according to Food Safety.gov . Mung beans and alfalfa sprouts are seeds that are ‘sprouted’ in warm and humid conditions. So where’s the danger?


 It is believed that seeds can become contaminated with bacteria while still seeds in the field. When they are placed in ‘the danger zone’ (41F – 135F) for extended periods of time to sprout, the environment is perfect for the growth of bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli if present on the seed. 


The FDA advises that high-risk populations (children, the elderly, pregnant women, and persons with weakened immune systems) should avoid eating raw or lightly cooked sprouts of any kind. They also recommend cooking the sprouts, but that usually defeats the culinary purpose for adding them. You need to make an informed choice as the chef or restaurateur, if this is a product you want on your menu, understanding the risk of foodborne illness.


OHA Fact Sheet #14


Here's the full investigation into the multi-state outbreak of Salmonella Montevideo infections linked to eating raw sprouts.


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