Foodborne Illness Associated With Sprouts

Several foodborne human pathogens have been isolated from sprouts and consumption of contaminated sprouts has been associated with numerous outbreaks of foodborne illness in the U.S. (Table 8.1). Some of these outbreaks have been international in scope due to the international distribution of sprout seed [10,12,24,25]. In addition to those in the U.S., sprout-related outbreaks of foodborne illness have been reported in several other countries including Canada, Japan, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, Finland, and the U.K. [4,5]. The earliest documented outbreak in the U.S. occurred in 1973 and was associated with consumption of raw sprouts grown with home sprouting kits containing soybean, cress, and mustard seed contaminated with enterotoxigenic Bacillus cereus [8]. There were no additional sprout-related outbreaks of foodborne illness recorded in the U.S. until 1990. Since 1995 there have been many outbreaks due to contamination of alfalfa and clover sprouts with various serovars of salmonella or E. coli O157. The first foodborne outbreak due to mung bean sprouts in the U.S. occurred in 2000 due to contamination with salmonella [9]. Previously, the only documented mung bean-associated outbreak of salmonellosis took place in England and Sweden in 1988 [26]. The number of culture confirmed cases in the U.S. has ranged from less than 10 to over 400 per outbreak. The actual number of cases was most likely much higher due to the significant underreporting normally encountered for

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