Over the past 30 years there has been a number of significant food poisoning outbreaks across the world linked to the consumption of contaminated sprouts.
In the UK, the most recent outbreak of this kind was in 2010, when the Health Protection Agency identified an increase in the number of human cases of salmonella food poisoning associated with the consumption of raw bean sprouts.
What are sprouts?
Seeds grown in water produce sprouts. These are collected before the leaves develop and the final product is eaten whole, including the seed. Examples include mung bean sprouts and radish sprouts.
What bacteria can be found on sprouts?
Salmonella and escherichia coli (E. coli) are the bacteria that most often cause food poisoning from sprouts. Other bacteria, such as bacillus, staphylococcus aureus and listeria have also occasionally been known to cause illness associated with sprouts.
What is the current advice on eating sprouts?
The Food Standards Agency says you can eat sprouts raw if they are labelled ‘ready to eat’. All other sprouts should be cooked thoroughly until steaming hot throughout. In addition, you should follow the manufacturers’ storage instructions. If these are not available, keep them refrigerated at 5˚C or below.
You should not eat sprouts that are past their use by date and should avoid sprouts that have turned brown or changed colour.
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