You’ve no doubt heard of the E. coli outbreak in northern Germany. You may have missed the fact that after several false starts authorities have now fingered fenugreek seeds imported from Egypt.
The EU has now placed bans on the import of the seeds and associated products until 31 October:
The banned items were defined as “seeds, fruit and spores used for sowing; leguminous vegetables, shelled or unshelled, fresh or chilled; fenugreek; dried leguminous vegetables, shelled, whether or not skinned or split; soya beans, whether or not broken; other oil seeds and oleaginous fruit, whether or not broken”.
There were separate outbreaks in Germany and France. Over 4100 people were affected and 49 died.
According to this Deutsche Welle report the organic farm in northern Germany is still in the frame, but it is not clear how the bean sprouts became infected.
The advice from the UK Food Standards Agency is instructive:
- Do not eat sprouted seeds such as alfalfa, mung beans (or bean sprouts) and fenugreek raw
- Cook sprouted seeds until steaming hot throughout
- Clean equipment used for sprouting seeds
- Wash hands after handling seeds intended for planting or sprouting
I did hear the opinion on radio that food irradiation would solve the problem of food preparation, but there my knowledge ends. I do recall the subject being quite controversial when food irradiation was introduced in Australia some years ago.