International Sprout Related Salmonella and Ecoli Infections

Salmonella and E.coli Infections: International

Emerging Infectious Diseases, Volume 5, Number 5,September-October 1999
August 20, 1999


Health Canada, Health Protection Branch - Laboratory Centre for Disease Control The Journal of Emerging Infectious Diseases has published a review article on salmonella and E. coli infections associated with eating seed sprouts (alfalfa, mung bean, and clover). The world's largest reported outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections, which occurred in Japan in 1996 and rendered 10,000 people ill, was linked to eating white radish sprouts. In late 1995 and early 1996, outbreaks of salmonellosis in Denmark, Oregon and British Columbia, were associated with eating alfalfa sprouts contaminated with Salmonella Newport. In October 1997 in Alberta an outbreak of Salmonella Meleagridis was linked to eating alfalfa sprouts. Researchers have treated both seeds and sprouts with heat or washed them in solutions of chlorine, alcohol, and other chemicals. Some of these disinfectants reduced the levels of bacteria, but a potential hazard remained, especially for persons with weak immune systems. High temperatures that would kill the bacteria on the seeds would also keep them from sprouting. The article concludes that until an effective way is found to prevent illness from sprouts, they should be eaten with caution, if at all.