UK seeds linked to E coli outbreak
Posted: June 25th, 2011 - 10:38am by Doug Powell
This is what not to say during an outbreak of foodborne illness.
The U.K. Times reports that Britain's Food Standards Agency (FSA) was investigating possible links between vegetable seeds supplied by a British company and an outbreak of E coli in south-west France.
French authorities have identified Thompson & Morgan, a British mail order seed and plant company, as being the supplier of seeds from which rocket, fenugreek and mustard vegetable sprouts were grown and served at a party at a creche near Bordeaux.
Ipswich-based Thomson & Morgan told the BBC in a statement it was "highly unlikely" the seeds were responsible.
The company had sold "thousands of packets and have had no reported problems." It was more likely that "the way that they were used and handled" had caused the contamination.
What Thomson & Morgan may want to say is a detailed accounting of where the sprout seeds are grown and all the fabulous food safety steps that are taken by the producers and distributors, including test results of germinated seeds to verify the controls are working.
And the Brits just announced sprouted seeds should only be eaten if they have been cooked thoroughly until steaming hot throughout; they should not be eaten raw.
Steaming hot, piping hot, whatever that means. And does not warn against the risk of cross-contamination while handling those little natural plants in a home or food service kitchen. Get rid of them.
A table of international sprout outbreaks is available at http://bites.ksu.edu/sprouts-associated-outbreaks.