High bacteria levels in bean sprouts

CBC News asked hockey goon and University of British Columbia microbiology type Kevin Allen to test 44 packages of sprouts for bacteria from across the country and he found lots.

There was no salmonella but Allen found 93 per cent tested positive for bacteria, and in some cases, high levels of enterococci bacteria, which is an indicator of fecal contamination.

"They [bacteria found] come from our intestinal tract and we don’t want the contents of our intestinal tract on our food," he said.

Sprouts are particularly susceptible to contaminants because they are grown in moist, warm environments, which are ideal for the rapid growth of bacteria, Allen said, adding that washing them before consuming them likely wouldn’t help.

"Personally, I don’t consume sprouts and I would not feed them to my children, either," Allen said.

Allen also tested 106 samples of bagged veggies and found 79 per cent of the herbs and 50 per cent of the spinach had similar bacterial contamination.

Allens report can be found at http://www.cbc.ca/manitoba/includes/pdfs/produce_survey.pdf. We all look forward to the results being published in a peer-reviewed journal before being further bandied about.

A table of North American raw sprout-related outbreaks is available at http://bites.ksu.edu/sprout-associated-outbreaks-north-america

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About Douglas Powell

A former professor of food safety and the publisher of barfblog.com, Powell is passionate about food, has five daughters, and is an OK goaltender in pickup hockey. Download Doug’s CV here. Dr. Douglas Powell editor, barfblog.com retired professor, food safety 3/289 Annerley Rd Annerley, Queensland 4103 dpowell29@gmail.com 61478222221 I am based in Brisbane, Australia, 15 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time