In cooking, the process of clarification entails straining out extraneous muck from liquids so that they might be pure, clear and ideal for consumption. With this series on food terminology and issues we're attempting to do the same.
Another day, another Food and Drug Administration warning - and for what seems to be the millionth time in the past few months (okay - at least the fourth this year), the culprit is sprouts.
In a press release issued on Monday, the agency advised consumers not to eat Evergreen Produce brand alfalfa sprouts and spicy sprouts. The release states that these sprouts are possibly linked to 20 reported cases, including one hospitalization, of Salmonella Enteritidis in Idaho, Montana, New Jersey, North Dakota and Washington State.
While the pathogen associated with this outbreak is different from the pathogen associated with the outbreak in Europe, the FDA says it is imperative that elderly, infants and those with impaired immune systems not consume the sprouts, as they are are more likely to have a severe illness from Salmonella infection.
E. coli strain behind German deaths apparently resurfaces in France
Even people with uncompromised immune systems are strongly cautioned to discard any Evergreen Produce sprouts in sealed containers so no other humans, pets or wild animals can consume them and become infected. Thoroughly cooking sprouts can reduce the chance of foodborne illness, says the FDA, but be careful - since 1996, there have been at least 30 reported outbreaks of foodborne illness associated with different types of raw and, yes, lightly cooked sprouts.
But aren't sprouts supposed to be - healthy? They're the stuff of health food cafes and virtuous hummus pockets. They're supposed to add beneficial, low-calorie crunch to salads and sandwiches, not cause you to, per the FDA press release, "develop diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection" or possibly become severely ill and die.
All about digestive health
Unfortunately, according to a CBC-commissioned study led by Kevin Allen, a microbiology professor at the University of British Columbia, the warm, moist conditions that are conducive to growing bumper crops of sprouts are also an ideal breeding ground for bacteria. In his test of 44 samples of pre-packaged sprouts (as well as 48 of leafy greens and 58 of various 58 herbs), "Over 78% of sprouts had levels of microorganisms too numerous to count. In addition, one sample was contaminated with generic E. coli and nearly all samples had enterococci detected, including E. faecalis and E. faecium."
The report continues, "Although high levels of microorganisms in sprouts were expected, the extensive detection of enterococci and potential significance are not well documented in scientific literature. Enterococcus spp. are inherently resistant to some antibiotics, and are known for their ability to acquire and subsequently disseminate antibiotic resistance genes to other bacteria. As such, the observed high levels of contamination in sprouts (93%), as well as herbs (79%) and spinach (50%), warrants further investigation, and may present an issue in the dissemination of antimicrobial resistance through foodborne means."
So how does that bacteria get there in the first place? Attorney and food safety advocate Bill Marler tells Eatocracy that the most likely factors are either from contamination at the seed level as plants grow out in manure-enriched fields and spread contamination across crops, or in the sprouting facilities themselves.
In one case investigated from the end of 2010 through the early months of 2011 after an outbreak that sickened 140 people with Salmonella at Jimmy John’s sandwich shop chain, workers at the Tiny Greens Organic Farm in Urbana, Illinois were found to have tracked compost pile runoff from the front of the facility inside to the production area. This was far from the only hygiene violation at the facility and the FDA issued a warning letter informing the public of the danger.
When salmonella changes your life
Information, Marler asserts, is indeed the public's best defense against illness. "We’ve got to a point where we need to give consumers far more warning," he says. "The counterargument to risk is benefit - and that’s where consumers get confused. There’s evidence that broccoli sprouts have anti-cancer qualities. There are other cancer preventatives that don’t require broccoli sprouts. Yes, raw milk contains pro-biotics, but so does yogurt."
The other E. coli threat? Raw milk
While Marler advocates personal responsibility on the consumer end, saying, "Knowing that some of these foods can cause harm, people must be vigilant about how and where they get them and how they use them," he also believes that producers must keep the public safe and their facilities hygenic.
"Sprouters need to be held accountable for not using science that they know works, to protect consumers," he says, referring to chemical sprays that have been used effectively to decontaminate seeds and stop the spread of harmful bacteria.
Evergreen Produce, while not currently producing sprouts, has yet to issue a recall for any of its products.
Read previous CNN coverage on E. coli
I purchase only ORGANIC sprouting seeds from National Grocers.Been sprouting mung beans, broccoli, lentil, and alfalfa sprouts on a regular basis for over a year and never experienced any problems. I rinse the seeds a minimum of three times a day before placing them in the refrigerator. Try to use these up within 4 days and never have had any problems. Think I will try the idea of using first a vinegar spray, then peroxide, then rinse. This sounds like the best idea yet to eliminate any chances of contamination. Never purchase store bought sprouts. It's like playing Russian roulette.
Dang, the Salmonella is spawning too. O love Salmonella sushi... I used to watch the bears eating them out of the river...
Another argument for the HARMLESS process of irradiation to kill bacteria. Make these things shelf stable, reduce refrigeration needs (and thus end-unit cost), and keep us far healthier.
I was a cub sprout when I was little.
I prefer my food to taste like something other than dirt!
MMM I want to get a cow and a pig, for some delicious Brazilian BBQ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Scientists have discovered a new variety of sprouts, fondly dubbed the "Holier than thou" sprout. These sprouts only appear to sprout on blogs that contain articles in which they can comment mercilessly on the alleged inadequacies of others. It turns out that these sprouts are the cause of contamination in all other sprouts. Scientists suggest eradicating them as soon as they start to appear.
And now back to your regularly scheduled Eatocracy...
The real solution would be to irradiate foods that are often eaten raw. This is a safe way to kill bacteria, does not leave any kind of residue in the food, and would greatly reduce the danger of food borne illnesses, most of which are caused by raw vegetables.
But it will give me cancer!!!! It will make me glow in the dark!!!! Etc etc. ;)
GROW YOUR OWN. Hubby and I have cleanly grown our own at home for many years...never a single illness. We get seeds from http://Www.sproutpeople.com. put seeds in jar, germinate, rinse well. It's the mass produced ones sold in supermarkets that cannot be trusted.
EXCUSE ME!!! who gives a sh*t if animals eat it? animals will eat eachothers own p00p let alone some microbe in their food. use common sense morons.
Sprouts are good and healthy. They have always been healthy. Whats mentioned in this article is just another example of how weak our bodies have become – our immune system should be able to fight the occasional bacteria. We should focus on how to make sprouts healthy as against stop eating them!
Generally our body can fight the occational bacteria. That's why the number of people who have gotten sick is fairly small. 20 people getting sick. A lot more than 20 people have eaten the sprouts.
Our bodies may not be accustomed to bacteria the way, say, a perons in a 3rd world country is. But we also have a lot fewer illnesses and deaths from bacterial infection than those countries.
You must work for an agriultural corporation like Monsanto, because you just enpugh to be irritating, yet your opinion is so strongly set in protecting those business ethics and practices. I suggest you do little reading and less trolling. It was all over the news last week, articles finding conclusive evidence of links between Monsanto herbicidal agricultural and lawn care products causing cancer in test animals. These agricultural chemicals leave trace heavy metals and other by-products in soils and water, as well as vegetative matter which do have adverse effects on living tissues, cells, organs, glands, etc. I work as an Environmental Inspector and practice Organic Farming methods at home. You can get off your high horse and let others express their opinions without you attacking, belittling, or fear-mongoring your way into this conversation practice.
SM <- Loony Tunes......
SM–Your comments have nothing to do with what I said about people's resistance to bacteria. I will address one thing, though. The studies showing the danger of Roundup indicated a danger to those who come into direct contact with it (i.e. those who spray a lot of it). And even those people can avoid contact if they take the proper precautions.
Sprouts are not good and healthy. I almost died from eating alfalfa sprouts when I was 20 years old and healthy. Granted I ate them a few days in a row on my sandwiches, but this would not happen if there were normal levels of bacteria in them. I will never eat sprouts again and tell friends and family not to.
Yet another example of how the obsession with organic foods has blinded people to the reality that manure is loaded with bacteria, and if the growers aren't extremely careful (and knowledgeable) about proper sanitation, their organic produce will also be loaded with bacteria. Yuuccck.
Bravo Ed. I wouldn't eat anything Organic if you paid me.
I DO NOT WANT CHEMICALS IN MY FOOD !!!!!! get that in your thick head Mr Marler.
Wash your veggies, up your meds and turn your caps lock off.
Fact: sprouts (and raw milk) can cause serious illness. if someone wants to play Russian roulette with their own food then so be it. But consumers have a right to be informed and kept safe. Food safety has NOTHING to do with politics but it does show how obsessed the public is with idiotic partisan fervor. I will not play the odds of being sick because unlike some die hards I have been seriously sick from food contamination.
" if someone wants to play Russian roulette with their own food then so be it"
Could you please remember this statement when it comes time for them to make laws that keep people from eating what ever they want? You're right, it is their choice. The people that eat this stuff (not me btw) have forgotten more about their bodies than you or I ever knew, more than the feds will EVER know. It's their gamble, let them take it.
So, you'll just believe this report for all its nonsense and support spraying chemicals in your food? then 10 yrs later u get some weird cancer and a million drugs to treat it... yeah that sounds better... mmm
If you want the feds to regulate something.
Why not push to regulate texting while driving.
Just look at the statistics.
There are far more people affected by people who text and drive than those who eat raw and drink raw milk.
"human as you"–you comments would hold more weight if there were any actual evidence that all these "evil" "chemicals" were making people sick. Cancer, for instance, has been declining for years.
there is already a direct connection between those chems and cancer.
cancer is in the decline because it is finaly coming down from when it spiked between 60's-90's.
that is when we realized how dangerous some of these chems actually are and banned em.
but not all were banned. some are still used today. so we have a declining rate, but its still a rate that is much higher than anything we have seen pre-agrochemical market
You "play Russian roulette" everytime you sit yourself down in a vehicle.
So don't say you "won't play the odds".
Did you consider that processed and pastureized foods cause disease as well. The problem is that the public is not informed at all.The health crisis in America is due to flawed FDA policy.
My brother uses a special kind of sprout when he bakes brownies. He says you can grow them yourself.
Solution: Sprout them yourself. It will cost a fraction of the original price and will always be fresh and perfect. Sprouts are a super food, often with far higher nutritional content than if you cooked them. Some favorites to try: Garbanzo beans/chick peas, mung beans, green lentils, French lentils, wheat, barley, triticale, rye, and many more as well as alfalfa and broccoli. Soak overnight in any wide mouth jar with lots of water (purified is best), then rinse a few times a day. 24-48 hours later – you've got food. Alfalfa and broccoli take longer. Ever seen bean sprouts in a store? They should be green as mung beans are green. But they're white. Why? They've been bleached so they don't go bad. Guess that the bleaching does to the nutritional content! The best time to eat a sprout is when the sprouts are just starting. Cooking sprouts is ridiculous – makes as much sense as cooking an orange. What a real superfood? Juice your sprouts!
Good post except for the green/white part. Sprouts turn green when exposed to bright light. All sprouts start out a pale color. It's not from bleach, but lack of exposure to the light.
Why not just eat the beans?
Because, after they have sprouted, the protein content goes really high– great for vegans. I'm vegan not because of scruples but because I do not want to go on cholesterol-reducing drugs. And it's working amazingly well.
Sprout Your Own....in other words, do what households did before 'store bought'....they made their very own food poisoning.... Well at least that way there's no one to 'sue' at any rate, so I guess it's better at least in that regard.
The lesson here is wash your vegetables, and cook everything thoroughly.
LOL! Love your screen name.
Life causes death
i grow my own all the time with the glass jar and screen method. never had a problem.
This is a stupid article. This is not about sprouts, it is about corporate food contamination. When are you going to notice that corporations botch up every thing they do? Especially food. Grow your own sprouts... why would you put a chain of unknown hands, not to mention the use of hydrocarbons for packaging and transportation, etc. to have sprouts on your table? Jar, seeds, clean water at home...
Get off your high horse. If we all grew our own food, we would quickly become a third world country. Large scale farms are what freed up labor to build stuff and invent stuff.
And organic farms wind up with contamination as frequently as big farms do. And considering organic is a small % of all food sold in the US, that makes orgainc food more suceptible to contamination than food produced by "evil" big corporations.
And the reason this stuff makes news is because it happens so rarely. 99.999% of food is perfectly safe and people like you look at the 0.001% and use that to say that they botch "everything" in order to distort reality to fit your own made up version of the truth.
.... and that's no BS. KUTGW
It's too bad because I love sprouts but not enough to want to grow my own. I stopped eating them a few years ago because I am afraid of contamination. My husband eats raw spinach daily and fortunately he's never had a problem.
The home page article title is disingenuous. It says "Why sprouts make you sick", but should actually say "Why sprouts get tainted by bacteria that make you sick" since it's not the sprouts' fault, but that of the farms for not sprouting and packaging in hygienic and sanitary conditions.
Your right, but then they wouldn't be fear mongering if they told it factualy. (and they have to do that, company rule)
It's obviously all Bush's fault according to the Democrats.
I like your initials. Here, let me finish them for you: umb astard.
let's try....ouche ag
oo. oo. I have . the icky itch
Sprouts are very good for human body. Eat in variety but don't eat or go after unusual ingredient; it preserves the planet. Omnivorous humans are the worst consumers and actually pests on Planet Earth.
I just came across this and read this article and then down to the raw milk link.
I couldn't comment on that link so here I am.
There is some "truthiness" to this story.
But before this "opinionator" tries to fearmonger more people into siding with his communist ideas he needs to go out in the "real world" and gather information.
I am a proponent and advocate for raw milk.
My family and I have been drinking raw milk for years and we enjoy it.
Personally, I've lost about 12lbs on a strictly raw milk diet for 3 weeks, drinking a gallon of milk a day.
Sure there are negatives for the raw milk, but there are also positives for raw milk too.
Why did this educated individual only point out the negatives.
Way more people die of vehicle accidents per year that raw milk drinkers but no one is giving there opinion on here wanting to ban vehicles are they? Not to mention, tobacco, alcohol, dr.'s mistakes, the list goes on and on.
This raw milk scare comes straight from "big business" s to get the small time farmer out of business, to silence the voice of the common people.
Mr. Berezow, I would like to challenge you to write an article on the positives of drinking raw milk since you already wrote one on the negatives.
If you haven't already been manipulated and influenced by big business you will.
And if not, we will know....
Feel free to e-mail me and I'll be happy to provide you with the information that I have.
Like the lyrics of the Lee Greenwood song states.
And I'm proud to be an American, where at least I know I'm free.........
If we want to drink our raw milk it's our right!
I think the big thing is awareness. They are saying that there is a bigger risk of ecoli outbreaks in processed raw milk because it lacks pasteurization. In your haste to call him a communist, you forgot that it has nothing to do with his political background, and this is coming from a big conspiracy theorist(me). This is not stopping you from bending down aside bessy and squeezing some milk down your gullet. However, if you want to avoid a lawsuit, you might not want to hand it to anyone with your poopy hands. The truth is i wouldn't trust raw milk unless i saw it come out of the cow myself.
The positives of drinking raw milk are the same as consuming anything that is raw, you are gaining certain nutrients and vitamins that you wouldn't if heat were to be applied to it... but there are certain guidelines in order to process, sell, and consume them that must be followed or all you will be left with are the negatives of eating said raw food. Raw doesn't have to mean dirty or unsafe.
Thank you for the reply.
Believe you me there is no haste.
He wrote that article as his opinion and I understand it to be fearmongering.
The same tactic used by socialists and communists to "slant" people to feel a certain way about an issue.
He'd need to prove he's not a socialists/communists in my eyes by coming out with an article that lists the benefits of the raw milk he was bashing.
Here in Texas and where I buy my raw milk they are "certified" by the state and are checked regularly.
When I bought store bought milk it'd last maybe two weeks.
At a month and a half I'm still drinking this raw milk.
It doesn't putrify like the store bought milk.
I ran out of my milk a while back and went to the store and got some "organic".
I just about spit is out. It was so bitter. And it was after that experience that really sold me on raw milk.
If I ddin't trust the farmers that supply my milk I sure wouldn't be letting my children drink it.
If one only has the media lefts' take on it go to texasrealmilk dot org, farmandranchfreedom dot org,realmilk dot com, or raw-milk-facts dotcom.
Sprouts have a very limited shelf life and it is hard to rinse them clean. This contributes to the situation where you are at risk of buying infected ones. I agree, grow your own if you must eat them ( and the sprouts in stores are severely overpriced too).
It's unbelievably easy to make your own. Soak a cup of dried mung beans, chick peas or any bean you want to sprout overnight. In the morning, line an opaque dish with a damp paper towel, spread the beans in it and cover it with another paper towel. Partially cover the dish with a lid (leave just a crack to breathe) and leave it in a cool, dark place for a day or 2 (checking once or twice on how long the tails are and making sure the paper towels are still damp, sprinkling with water if/as needed) and voila, sprouts. Enjoy raw or (if you're like me) cook in a curry.
That should read, "cover with another DAMP paper towel."
I'd like to modify that in a way that allows you to rinse the sprouts daily to help prevent growth of stuff you don't want to grow like mold. I think there might even be a way to sneak a drop of bleach into the water at the end to kill off organisms.
Normally sprouts are grown in jars that facilitate rinsing and draining. The draining is very important, or you wind up with an even worse problem with mold or bacteria.
This is very interesting – although it is easy for me to avoid sprouts (hardly ever eat them), spinach is another matter. Should I switch to canned or cooked? It makes perfect sense what they are saying, btw. Unless you grow sprouts yourself, I wouldn't trust them.
Cooked and canned spinach are the same thing.
See what happens when you eat health food? For me, it's Doritos all the way for now on.
LOL. Sad but true. Processed food probably is safer.
Until you drop dead one day from heart disease, diabetes, cancer, or a myriad other diseases directly cause or indirectly contributed to by a diet low in nutrition and high in preservatives, flavorings, and other artificial crap. But not before buying a whole lot of pharmaceuticals pushed on you by the drug industry to keep you alive a little longer to fatten their wallets.
This is a story about bacteria.
You can eat Doritos while wondering which of those 2400 new chemicals approved by the FDA for addition to processed foods you might be eating... and how they are affecting your body and mind. Go ahead... make Monsanto's day.
Do you even know what you are talking about? Or are you just repeating something you heard/read because you thought is sounded good? Monsanto doesn't even make any of those evil food additives you reference. They produce seeds and chemicals used at the farm.
I wonder where your food comes from if its not from the farm?
chemicals in food are nothing but a bunch of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and hydrogen. all the same stuff we already have in our bodies. flipping a turd over a bunch of unscientifically researched stuff ain't gonna do nothin', so how about you relax and enjoy life while you can eh?
Many of the chemicals in todays processed are not found normally in our bodies. Titanium Dioxide is not found in us, yet that is in many non-dairy creamers and other foods to make it white. Ammonium sulfate nor Ammonium chloride are normal to be ingested, yet they are very common in processed foods. SO what will kill us, bacteria from careless growers, processed food chemicals or Monsanto's odd gmo seeds that dont work anyway.
You forgot about buses. Buses kill us too!
Joleen, please get a clue
That's what I'm talkin' about! LOL
Any thing that can be done about it, without cooking the sprouts and losing all the nutrients? Because sprouts are indeed delicious. Cows love alfalfa, too.
You can make your own sprouts at home. I did that for years when I was younger. There are sprouting kits you can buy, or you can just use the seeds and a jar and strainer that you already have at home. That way, you can make sure that it's all sterile.
Yes, that what i do ! very good !
LP, unless the seeds are contaminated.
Wash them. Seriously. First, wash your hands. Then use one of those produce sprays on the sprouts an rinse them thoroughly - like for at least a minute.
You can spray them with vinegar, then peroxide, then rinse.
Mmmm. Sounds yummy.
Where's the beef?!
Looks like another attack from the chemical companies that now want to spray all sprout seeds with chemicals. The probelm would not be solved by this. It would only make things worse.
The problem is our "monoculture, produce as much as you cann, from as little space as possible" method of farming and raising livestock and producing mass quantities of food.
MMMmmm. I love da sprouts!
Like every other pasty, pansy vegan. I say, let them eat all the uncooked sprouts they want.
Richard, you really need to be careful calling vegetarians a pansy since many vegetarians are blackbelts in many of the martial arts. I wonder if you would call them a pansy to their face.
Many omnivores own guns. F-off.
To you vegan pansies. It takes 41 muscles to frown, but only two to pull a trigger. Bring it own.
If we are eating sprouts shouldn't we be more peaceful?
I'm not vegan because of scruples. I'm vegan because doing things that way has brought down my cholesterol count amazingly. I have a strong family history of heart disease. Veganism works for people like us. And keeps me from more Rx bills.
"science... That works" like irridation. How many people have to sicken and die before we fix the problem across the Board?
Some food is irradiated already, but I'd bet not very much. The only reason it's not done is irrational fears on the part of the general public. (Radiation? Oh, it must be bad. It's going to give me cancer....) Unfortunately, you can't count on the emotional, uneducated public to know what is in their best interest.
It's the equivalent of a person who drives instead of flies because they're afraid of dying in a plane crash.
Even as delicate a food as sprouts can be safely irradiated without deterioration of the food quality. There are a very few foods (Romain lettuce, for example) that reportedly don't take to irradiation well, but most foods can be irradiated to dramatically enhance food safety with no issues at all....and it also helps to improve shelf life of many perishable fruits and vegetables, too. It's a win-win.
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