In an effort to determine the prevalence of Salmonella, Listeria and E. coli O157:H7 in sprouts, FDA conducted a large sampling study of sprouts, the results of which were released last week.
The agency collected 825 samples from 37 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia and found 14 positive samples at eight of the 94 growers (10 samples came from four growers). Samples were collected from three production process points: Seeds, finished product and spent irrigation water, and tested for contamination. FDA found the following contamination:
- Salmonella on 2.35% of seed samples, 0.21% in finished sprouts and 0.53% in spent irrigation water
- Listeria monocytogenes on 1.28% of finished sprouts
- No positive E. coli O157:H7 results in finished sprout or spent irrigation. Due to limitations of the test method, FDA didn’t test seed samples.
“Sprouts are especially vulnerable to pathogens given the warm, moist and nutrient-rich conditions needed to grow them. From 1996 to July 2016, there were 46 reported outbreaks of foodborne illness in the United States linked to sprouts. These outbreaks accounted for 2,474 illnesses, 187 hospitalizations, and three deaths.” – CFSAN
In the event that contaminated sprout samples were uncovered, FDA worked with the firms that own or released the affect sprouts to conduct voluntary recalls or destroy them. FDA inspections also followed.
The full report, FY 2014 – 2016 Microbiological Sampling Assignment, is available on FDA’s website.