New guidelines in Ireland for ready-to-eat sprouted seeds
Posted: August 30th, 2011 - 5:59pm by Doug Powell
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) has published guidelines for the safe production of sprouted seeds to be consumed raw, following the recent outbreaks of E. coli O104:H4 in Germany and France linked to the consumption of these seeds.
These guidelines introduce pathogen control measures for seed suppliers and sprouted seed producers. These include testing and certification requirements for seeds and a disinfection step and testing for sprouted seeds. The measures are being introduced to reduce risks to consumers’ health.
Most sprouted seed outbreaks have been attributed to contamination of the seeds used for sprouting. The moist, warm conditions of sprouting can allow small numbers of pathogens present on seeds to multiply by several orders of magnitude during the sprouting period.
To avoid confusion among consumers, the FSAI is advising producers of sprouted seeds who are using these guidelines; to label their products as ‘ready-to-eat’. Sprouted seed producers who cannot implement the control measures specified in the new guidelines should continue to ensure that their products are labelled as ‘cook before consumption’. Retailers and caterers should check that their suppliers of ready-to-eat sprouted seeds are following these FSAI guidelines.
The FSAI is advising members of the public who choose to sprout seeds at home, that they should continue to cook these products before consumption. This is because seeds certified free of pathogenic bacteria are unlikely to be widely available for some time. These guidelines can be accessed on our website on the following link http://bit.ly/o9VWuW.
Unfortunately, no one knows if any particular sprouter is following the guidelines.
A table of sprout-related outbreaks is available at http://bites.ksu.edu/sprouts-associated-outbreaks.