Consumers who pay attention to health announcements would have a reason to be confused when it comes to the topic of sprouts. The FDA has advised, “Because of reports of increasing numbers of illnesses associated with consumption of raw sprouts, the Food and Drug Administration is advising all persons to be aware of the risks associated with eating raw sprouts (e.g., alfalfa, clover, radish). Outbreaks have included persons of both genders and all age categories. Those persons who wish to reduce the risk of foodborne illness from sprouts are advised not to eat raw sprouts. This advice is particularly important for children, the elderly, and persons with weakened immune systems, all of whom are at high risk of developing serious illness due to foodborne disease. People in high risk categories should not eat raw sprouts. Since 1995, raw sprouts have emerged as a recognized source of foodborne illness in the United States. These illnesses have involved the pathogenic bacteria Salmonella and E. coli O157. Alfalfa and clover sprouts have been involved most often, but all raw sprouts may pose a risk.”
But recently broccoli sprouts have made the news for being a cancer growth inhibitor. They contain 20-50 times the amount of sulforaphane, a beneficial phytochemical, as compared to regular heads of broccoli. A recent press release by the American Association of Cancer Research explained they have been shown to reduce the bacteria present in the stomach that increases the risk for cancer. Putting them on the skin also helps inhibit the grown of skin cancer. (aacr.org) Broccosprouts currently produces, packages and sells broccoli sprouts in many grocery stores across the U.S. They have addressed the issue of food safety and sprouts on their website. They have worked with the FDA to develop safe production methods which comply with HACCP standards, including using seeds from approved sources, chlorinated water and safe germinating conditions; plus they test each batch before it is shipped. We would say this is a pretty good effort.
Stephanie Ronco has been editing for Food and Health Communications since 2011. She graduated from Colorado College magna cum laude with distinction in Comparative Literature. She was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa in 2008.