Canada reminds Canadians about the risks of eating raw sprouts – dos this mean there’s an outbreak?

When Canadian bureaucrats send out a food safety press release for no apparent reason other than to remind Canadians of something it usually means there is an outbreak going on.

Once again, it’s raw sprouts, and it’s not like it’s sprout season or something (unlike the often terrible turkey food safety advice the surfaces at Thanksgiving).

Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency
are reminding Canadians that raw or undercooked sprouts should not be eaten by children, the elderly, pregnant women or those with weakened immune systems.

Sprouts, such as alfalfa and mung beans, are a popular choice for Canadians as a low-calorie, healthy ingredient for many meals. Onion, radish, mustard and broccoli sprouts, which are not to be confused with the actual plant or vegetable, are also common options.

These foods, however, may carry harmful bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli O157:H7, which can lead to serious illness.

Fresh produce can sometimes be contaminated with harmful bacteria while in the field or during storage or handling. This is particularly a concern with sprouts. Many outbreaks of Salmonella and E. coli infections have been linked to contaminated sprouts. The largest recent outbreak in Canada was in the fall of 2005, when more than 648 cases of Salmonella were reported in Ontario.