Maybe there’s an outbreak: Health Canada details risks of eating raw sprouts

Health Canada has a habit of issuing food safety reminders about the same time an outbreak comes to public attention. The latest example was a completely useless reminder to wash produce after an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in New Brunswick linked to Romaine lettuce from California, and just before another NB E. coli outbreak was announced.

Today, HC is “reminding Canadians that raw or undercooked sprouts should not be eaten by young children, older adults, pregnant women or those with weakened immune systems.”

Between 1995 and 2011, approximately 1,000 cases of sprout-borne illness were reported in eight outbreaks from five provinces across Canada. The largest outbreak in Canada was in 2005, when more than 648 cases of Salmonella were reported in Ontario.

Health Canada says children younger than five, older adults, pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems are particularly vulnerable and should not eat raw sprouts at all. They should also avoid eating cooked sprouts unless the sprouts have been cooked thoroughly.

This advice does not account for the risks of cross-contamination.