—A Special Report from Victor Marchione, MD
The FDA has just released an urgent recall. This recall affects raw alfalfa sprouts packaged and labeled as “Caldwell Fresh Foods” alfalfa sprouts — four-ounce plastic cups and one pound plastic bags and in two-pound and five-pound plastic bags in cardboard boxes. All have a sticker affixed with the printed words “Caldwell Fresh Foods.” “Nature’s Choice” alfalfa sprouts — 4-ounce plastic cups — and “California Exotics” brands alfalfa sprouts — five-ounce plastic clamshell — containers are also being recalled. According to the FDA, no other alfalfa sprouts are implicated in the outbreak.
The products are being recalled because they have been linked to an outbreak of salmonella infections. Consumers in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Missouri, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, and Wisconsin have been affected. The recall is quite wide-reaching, as the sprouts were distributed to a variety of restaurants, delicatessens and retailers, including Trader Joe’s and Wal-Mart stores.
Salmonella is a bacterium that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people. People with weakened immune systems can also be seriously harmed by the bacterium. The FDA recommends that consumers and restaurant and delicatessen operators should not purchase, eat or use raw sprouts from Caldwell Fresh Foods. Instead, the sprouts should be returned to the place of purchase for a refund and disposal.
When grown under safe practices, sprouts can be a delicious and healthy addition to your diet. If you are growing your own sprouts at home, follow these guidelines.
–Start with organic seeds intended for edible sprouts. Many commercial seeds are pre-coated with fungicides, pesticides, and other chemicals.
–Soak the seeds in a jar or bowl for a period of time, usually overnight. Do a web search for “sprouting chart” for timing details.
–Sprouting systems usually consist of trays for the sprouts to sprout and grow in. Remember that your sprouts need to be well-drained, they need to be rinsed regularly, and they must not dry out. For best results, use a sprouting tray.
–In general, you should rinse and drain the sprouts every morning and evening.
–Use fresh sprouts right away, or store them in the refrigerator for up to several days.