In the month of February, an E. coli outbreak linked to fresh sprouts struck the states of Minnesota and Wisconsin. Fresh alfalfa sprouts have been linked to several food-borne illness cases over the past several years, so we’d like to take the time to review how MN certified food managers can keep their customers from consuming tainted sprouts and other sensitive raw produce items.
Sensitive Produce Items and the MN Certified Food Manager
The recent E. coli outbreak in our state wasn’t merely an isolated incident. In a completely unrelated outbreak this year, sprouts grown in Kansas have been found to be the cause of illnesses as far away as Pennsylvania. When something like this happens, we like to take the time to have a discussion on how food service professionals can prevent these types of incidents from affecting their guests.
It is never safe to assume that raw sprouts, or any other raw produce items, are safe to consume right out of its packaging. All produce should be thoroughly rinsed and dried before it is made available to your customers.
Secondly, you should always throw away or return recalled produce items to your supplier. In this most recent case, the health department has warned that there may still be recalled alfalfa sprouts on retail store shelves or in food preparation facilities. On our blog page, we’ve incorporated a widget that will help you stay current on any recall information, and we suggest you check it regularly to make sure that you do not have recalled items in your inventory.
Finally, you should never serve raw sprouts of any kind if your regular customer base includes individuals that are susceptible to food-borne illness. The FDA recommends that alfalfa sprouts never be served to the elderly, children or those who have depleted immune systems. If you are in charge of food service for a school, assisted living home or medical facility, we strongly urge you to keep raw sprouts off of the menu.
At Safe Food Training, we like to hear how our readers deal with these types of situations. Do you serve raw alfalfa sprouts in your facility, or would you rather not take the risk and keep them off of your menu entirely?