Kroger, America's largest supermarket chain, announced it will stop selling sprouts because of their "potential food safety risk". It joins retail behemoth Walmart, which stopped selling them way back in 2010.
"After a thorough, science-based review, we have decided to voluntarily discontinue selling fresh sprouts," Payton Pruett, Kroger's vice president of food safety, said in a statement that USA Today got.
I can understand why companies would stop selling them - the bad press from hospitalizations isn't going to help the bottom line - but I don't understand why anyone eats them. Why did 21st century foodies stop reading science published more recently than a hundred years ago? Raw milk, raw sprouts, why not just write a book called Recipe For Diarrhea? And that is if you are lucky. If you were one of 3,000 Germans who got sick from the stuff in 2011, you might also have had your kidneys shut down or been one of the dozens who died.
Big Sprout insists it is the FDA at fault, at least in America. And they have been saying it since 1999, when FDA Commissioner Jane Henney M.D. called sprouts a high risk food and said that the following groups should not eat them; the young, the old, and people who do not want to die. Whole Foods is a problem too, sprout-ers claim, since they will now only carry safer bleached sprouts which are not really organic, according to hardcore advocates.
Big Sprout says the risks are exaggerated, and a lot fewer people are getting sick these days. Well, they are right, because a lot fewer people are dumb enough to eat the things these days.
Even Canadians are against sprouts, and they endorse all kinds of alternative medicine woo. But in 2005 they had 648 cases of Salmonella from sprouts just in Ontario. That was a wake-up call for health sanity.
If you choose to even buy sprouts, look at these instructions from Health Canada: "Use tongs, a glove or place a bag over your hand to transfer the sprouts into a plastic bag." Radioactive waste gets handled with less concern than raw sprouts and that's before getting to the part about eating. Even Huffington Post thinks they are a bad idea and it is impossible to get them to accept science, what with their anti-vaccine, toxic cleansing and pro-quantum healing positions front and center most of the time. But even they see the harm in sprouts.
Contrary to what foodies insist, eating raw sprouts is a modern phenomenon, our ancestors did not do it; yes, ancient people who cured headaches by drilling holes in skulls were not so dumb as to let seeds fester in warm, sludgy bacteria water for half a week and then eat them without cooking them.
I'm an old school Californian, not the ban-happy modern kind, so I generally believe people can act stupidly within reason so I don't want to ban Big Gulps and Republicans, like everyone else does - and I don't want to ban sprouts either. But use some common sense. The CDC hasn't reported a big outbreak of sprout-related E. Coli in a few months but that isn't because they are suddenly safe, it's because people are hopefully getting smarter.
What about growing your own? The FDA has guidelines if you want to throw caution to the wind and try, but the guidelines are to use calcium hypochlorite as a bleaching agent. If bleach doesn't feel organic enough for you, take heart that it is better than vomiting.