Sunday, June 5, 2011


On January 4 of this year, I posted "Five Foods I Won't Eat in 2011." Sprouts was one of them. In fact, it was first on the list. I guess if all those unfortunate people who are very ill with the German E.coli had read this post, they would be much happier today. I wish they had. This outbreak is no joke. Nor is this new super-toxic strain of E.coli bacteria.

The Safe Food Handbook has identified sprouts as one of the riskiest foods to eat. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not like sprouted seeds either. In fact, it warns people who are elderly or with a weakened immune system, not to eat them. There have been certain periods of time, such as April, 2009, when the FDA has warned everyone - even healthy people - not to eat sprouts. That is what the German government is doing now. For thousands of people, it's too late.

The usual contaminant of sprouts in the United States is Salmonella bacteria, although E.coli 0157:H7 has also been involved in contaminated alfalfa sprouts in the U.S. , as has the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. In the German outbreak, it is E.coli. Both in the case of the Salmonella and the E.coli bacteria, the original source is likely to be animal manure. In the case of Listeria contamination, the point of entry could be during processing.

Will washing sprouts help? Not always, because the contaminant can be right inside the seed itself.

Will cooking help? (Not that most of us like well-cooked sprouts) Sometimes. In the case of some E.coli bacteria, the enterotoxins they produce are heat-labile (meaning they are destroyed at high temperatures). But other E.coli enterotoxins can survive. That means that even cooking won't always solve the problem. And it is the toxins that really attack your body and continue to do so, even when the bacteria themselves have left the scene.

You may think twice about eating those sprouted seeds in the future.

To your good health!

1 comment:

carlturcotte said...

Heat-labile means that enterotoxins will be destroyed at high temperature (i.e. cooking temperature). In medicine, the term "labile" means susceptible to alteration or destruction.Its opposites are "stable" or "resistant".