Saturday, June 25, 2011


The UK industry and officials are denying it. But the French say it is true - or probably true. Seeds imported from Britain may have caused the latest (hopefully not E.coli 0104) sprout-linked outbreak in France. Is this going to be a modern-day Sprout Waterloo?

We will know in the next few days or weeks. In the meantime, France has halted the sale of fenugreek, mustard and arugula seeds from a British mail order seed and plant company, Thompson & Morgan. Apparently those sprouts on top of the delicious but deadly gazpacho at the Bordeaux charity dinner (where several of the recent victims ate) were grown with seeds from this company.

Company officials are saying it is more likely to have been something the French grower did or didn't do (since it is such a local outbreak - so far). But British authorities are being cautious anyway in protecting the eating public. Today (Saturday) they warned consumers against eating uncooked sprouts. The statement put out by Britain's Food Safety Agency advised that "sprouted seeds should only be eaten if they have been cooked thoroughly until steaming hot throughout." But it also noted that there haven't been any home-grown cases in the UK so far. This warning was just precautionary.

Even if it turns out to be something else (after all, a gazpacho has a lot of uncooked vegetables in it as well - including cucumbers, and this would not be the first time investigators jumped to a wrong conclusion), it is better to be safe than sorry.

Skip the sprouts in your salad, sandwich or soup. And if you are eating out, make a point of asking the restaurant to omit them.

To your good health,


Anonymous said...

I think it's far too early to just blame sprouts in a gaspacho as the cause for the outbreak. As you say, gaspacho contains a lot of un (under) cooked ingredients which could have been the root cause. Also, it could have been an unsanitary worker at the dinner. Who knows?

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