Friday, June 10, 2011

Food Safety News - Germany: Sprouts cause of E. coli outbreak

They have determined that Spouts are to blame for the E. coli outbreak that caused illness in nearly 3000 and killed approximately 30 people.  This has been a particularly virulent strain resulting in nearly 800 cases of HUS, which is over 25%, higher than seen in past outbreaks involving E. coli O157:H7 .
The source has been difficult to determine, changing from item to item over the last weeks.   Initially, cucumbers were identified as the source, but then it switched to sprouts.  Then they said it was not the sprouts, but now it is the sprouts again.  Much of the issue was related to the low percentage of people actually claiming to eat sprouts, only 28%. But if you handle sprouts, you know how they get over everything when you handle them.  Plus, they slide them into dishes and you really don’t know that they are there.  I think it also speaks to the level of contamination that must have been present.  Thinking further, we know that sprouts are a big issue in the way they are grown -  warm water spayed over seeds for days while the seeds sprout and those sprouts grow.

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