sprouts and salmonella...
The CDC has linked a salmonella outbreak to some alfalfa sprouts and spicy sprouts (a mix of alfalfa, clover, and radish sprouts)from a farm in Illinois that were distributed to D.C., Illinois, Indiana, and Missouri. The farm, specifically, was Tiny Greens Organic Farm in illinois. And, while a majority of the affected sprouts were sent to the above listed states, there have been cases documented in MA, CT, WI, PA, CA, CO, GA, IA, HI, KY, SD, TN, TX, and VA (not all of these cases have been deemed from the Tiny Greens Organic Farm but the CDC is looking into it.)
*PS- the Tiny Greens Organic Farm stands behind the fact that they have no link to the outbreak but agrees with the recall. As well, I am not attacking their farm, hey just happen to be in the middle of the current investigation, as these outbreaks have occurred at numerous other farms in the past.
How do salmonella outbreaks occur with sprouts and why do they always seem to be a vegetable affected?
So, the salmonella can occur during the soaking period of farming the sprouts. Before the raw seeds are sent to farmers, they are labeled for their germination strand and the process that they go through during processing, as legally required. The the labeled seeds are sent to farms to be either sprouted or plants and grown. During the sprouting process, salmonella can be in the water source and adhere to the veg whilst soaking, then infect the areas where the sprouts grow. Also, of note, many of these outbreaks in the past are dervied from seeds that have been imported from outside the US where the requirements to process seeds may not be as strict.
How do I prevent this?
Washing the sprouts will wash off the bacteria, and if you are worried, soaking the alfalfa sprouts in an antibacterial soak (very cheap) such as Bacdyn for 10 minutes. This product is also useful if you want to eat uncooked fruits and veggies while abroad in places that you are unsure of the cleanliness of the water/food sources. The antibacterial properties will help to wash off/soak off the bacteria and prevent E.Coli or Salmonella from adhering to the outside of the fruit/veg.
For Signs/symptoms/treatment of salmonella please read my earlier blog: salmonella and eggs
Are Sprouts worth the effort of washing them to eat them??
Yes! Alfalfa sprouts are full of really good vitamins and nutrients such as manganese, folic acid, magnesium, calcium, phosphorous, potassium, Vitamin A/B/C/E/K. And, they are full of antioxidants! Plus, alfalfa sprouts have been linked to helping with vision (much like carrots) along with boosting your immune system, it can also help decrease inflammation associated with arthritis, and lowers blood pressure. So, wash them off and eat them up!!
There are always investigations by the CDC and FDA with each one of these outbreaks to find the strand of germination and to find a link with the source of the salmonella, so be sure that they are also looking at ways to further prevent these from happening. But until it is completely eradicated, please be safe, and always wash (even pre-washed) sprouts, and try to keep an eye out for recalls by watching the news or checking in with the CDC about sprouts and different brands.
Yours in Good Health