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The authorities now recommend that people in Germany should not eat raw bean and seed sprouts of any origin.
They recommend withdrawal from the market of all food products from a farm in Lower Saxony, where the implicated bean and seed sprouts originated.
So far, there is no evidence that bean and seed sprouts from the farm have been exported beyond Germany.
This finding suggests that seed disinfection does reduce the risk for human disease posed by seed sprouts.
Nevertheless, both outbreaks amply demonstrate that disinfection is an imperfect remedy for the problem of contaminated seed sprouts.
In the last decade, multiple outbreaks linked to raw seed sprouts have occurred in countries throughout the world (Table 1).
Reported outbreaks of illness associated with seed sprouts, 1973-1998
Seed sprouts have been implicated as vehicles of transmission in outbreaks of foodborne illness (Table 1).
Numerous studies have been done to determine the effectiveness of a wide range of chemicals in killing pathogenic bacteria on seed sprouts and seeds intended for sprout production (Table 2).
Control of microorganisms in seed sprouts, by type of treatment and treatment results