What are the Risks of Eating Raw Sprouts?

Photo credit: Bigstockphoto
Photo credit: Bigstockphoto

Do you love eating sprouts? How about eating them raw? If you do then you must consider the risks involved. Unlike other fresh produce that are consumed raw or cooked lightly, sprouts can contain foodborne illnesses. So it is important that you know what you are dealing with even before you consume your sprouts.

What are sprouts?

Sprouts are the germination form of seeds and beans. Among these seeds and beans include beans, clover, broccoli, dill, pumpkin, radish and alfalfa. Beans are the most common known sprout and they vary according to the kind of beans you are eating. Alfalfa sprouts are the ones you see in salad bars or sandwiches. Most sprouts are used in different soups, salads, stir-fries, sandwiches and dishes. However consuming them raw is another thing.

In 1996, it has been reported that an outbreak of foodborne illnesses that have been related to sprouts were said to be 30 cases. The causes of these outbreaks were said to be caused by Salmonella and E. coli. Although there are a number of techniques to kill harmful bacteria in these sprouts, it is still not a guarantee that all harmful bacteria are totally eliminated.

Understand that sprouts are seeds that have just begun to grow. They are usually less than a week old when sold in the market. Inside this seed is a baby plant or what others call as “germ”. These germs are waiting for water and warmth so they can grow into big plants. However, sprouts are often consumed even before they are fully grown. The contamination of where these sprouts are growing can be many possible reasons. It could be from birds, rodents, livestock and even the people working on these farms. Since they are grown outdoors, it is impossible to get rid of unwanted pathogens in the water source and the sprout itself. This is why they present a very risky chance of containing salmonella and e. coli. Homegrown sprouts are not always safer compared to those sold in the market or organic farm either. There will still be harmful bacteria present in them and can grow at high levels when sprouting.

Who are at risk and what to do with raw sprouts?

There are many people at risk when they eat sprouts raw. Children, pregnant women and the elderly are often at risk for eating raw sprouts. People with weak immune system should also avoid eating raw sprouts. In case you can’t help but still eat raw sprouts, make sure that wash them thoroughly and repeatedly. Avoid eating them raw of course and make sure that it is cooked well.

So now that you know what kind of bacteria lies in raw sprouts and what contaminates them, do you still want to eat them raw? The choice is yours. If you still think you need raw sprouts in your diet, just don’t eat them raw this time. Wash them and cook them well, this will help eliminate the harmful bacteria, doing so will help you avoid getting sick in the future.

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