FDA Cautions Sprout Farmers

The Food and Drug Administration recently urged sprout farmers to be cautious about bacteria in their products. Sprout production requires warm, moist environments. These types of soils, however, are prime breeding grounds for dangerous bacteria like E-coli and salmonella, which also thrive in warm, moist environments. In addition, some seeds have nooks and crannies that can allow bacteria to remain alive even after pesticide treatments and chemical baths.

Tainted sprouts are one of the leading causes of salmonella and E-coli outbreaks in the U.S. and Europe. Recently, an E-coli outbreak in Germany killed 39 people and sickened over 3,000 others. After weeks of testing, German health officials identified sprouts as the cause of the outbreak.

In the United States, over 30 bacteria outbreaks have been linked to sprouts. FDA investigators traced the most recent salmonella outbreak to alfalfa sprouts grown by Tiny Farms in Urbana, Illinois. Inspection revealed a number of health violations, including runoff water from compost piles pooling near greenhouses and employees wearing the same clothing inside and outside of greenhouses.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer