Sprouts Food Poisoning Outbreak Will Make You Lose Your Appetite

clover sproutsThose of us who love lunch can't catch a break lately. First, the hard boiled egg recall from a couple weeks back had us eyeing our chicken and egg salad sandwiches suspiciously. Now, there's another potentially dangerous ingredient lurking in some of our sandwiches: sprouts! Well, raw clover sprouts from certain Jimmy John's locations to be exact.

Raw clover sprouts from the sandwich chain have been linked to an outbreak of E. coli food poisoning in five states. So far there have been only 12 cases reported in Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, and Wisconsin, and, thankfully, no one has died (although two had to be hospitalized). Of course, Jimmy John's shoulders most of the blame for serving contaminated sprouts to its customers, but this incident seems as good of a time as any to ask a really pressing question I've had for a while now:

When are people going to stop eating raw sprouts?


Seriously, people. I've said it again and again: Raw sprouts are one of the dirtiest foods you can eat. In fact, federal regulators warn against eating them because they are one of the riskiest foods in terms of being frequently associated with food borne illness.

I know, I know: Raw sprouts are so crunchy and delicious and sprouty and such a great source of protein that you just can't help yourself. But they need warm and humid conditions to grow, which is exactly the type of conditions ideal for the growth of harmful bacteria. And guess what? YOU CAN'T WASH HARMFUL BACTERIA OFF! So why would you even take a chance? Especially when fully cooked sprouts are just as good but safer.

I'm not exaggerating the risk here: There have been at least 30 outbreaks associated with raw or lightly cooked sprouts in the United States in the last 15 years. Jimmy John's itself is no stranger to outbreaks: Just one year ago raw alfalfa sprouts from one of its suppliers were linked to 140 salmonella illnesses -- an incident which caused the company to switch to clover sprouts, which are supposedly easier to clean.

The sandwich chain hasn't commented on this recent outbreak, but when it comes to eating raw sprouts, I certainly have a comment: Don't do it, people.

Do you eat sprouts?


Image via canarsiebk/Flickr

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