Bill Marler on Eating Sprouts

Germany’s E. coli disaster has prompted America’s top food safety litigator to write:

Children, the elderly, and persons whose immune systems are not functioning well should not eat raw sprouts, because current treatments of seeds and sprouts cannot get rid of all bacteria present.


Although sprouts are often considered a "health food," the warm, humid conditions needed for growing sprouts from seeds are also ideal for bacteria to flourish. Salmonella, E. coli, and other bacteria can grow to high levels without affecting the appearance of the 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. Until an effective way is found to prevent illness from sprouts, they should be eaten with caution, if at all.

Animal agriculture is the root cause of nearly all this risk, but that doesn’t help you if you’re a sprout-eating vegan hospitalized for kidney failure.

As somebody who eats sprouts almost daily, I’m personally reconsidering that choice. Perhaps the only way to bring the risk down to reasonable levels is to do the sprouting yourself, from seeds certified to come from farms that don’t use animal manure.

This is yet another example of how the meat industry diminishes the quality of life for omnivores and vegans alike. Link.


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