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Chapter 6 : Seed Sprouts: the State of Microbiological Safety

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Abstract:

In the past decade, consumption of raw or lightly cooked seed sprouts contaminated with or O157:H7 or O157:NM has been responsible for at least 27 outbreaks of infection in the United States, resulting in over 1,600 reported cases of foodborne illness. In this chapter, the authors discuss the native microflora found on sprout seeds and sprouts, the most promising antimicrobial interventions for sanitizing seeds and sprouts, and the detection technologies that have been studied. They also provide insights on the unique challenges and opportunities that seed sprouts afford from a food safety perspective and discuss strategies for reducing the risk of future sprout-related outbreaks of foodborne illness. Through the use of traditional bacteriological methods, sprout seeds and seed sprouts are known to harbor high populations of a variety of indigenous microbes. There is a lack of studies using modern methods of microbial ecology to investigate the native microflora on sprout seeds and sprouts. According to the authors, cultivation-independent molecular techniques have not yet been applied for identifying microorganisms associated with seed sprouts. A composite seed sample is sprouted, and pathogen testing of the spent irrigation water by Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-recommended procedures is performed. This seed-screening procedure does not preclude the necessity of testing each production batch according to the FDA guidance.

Citation: Fett W, Fu T, Tortorello M. 2006. Seed Sprouts: the State of Microbiological Safety, p 167-219. In Matthews K, Doyle M (ed), Microbiology of Fresh Produce. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817527.ch6

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Microbial Ecology
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Food Microbiology
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Confocal Laser Scanning Microscopy
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Figure 1

Scanning electron micrograph of native yeast and rod-shaped bacteria on the surface of a mung bean sprout cotyledon.

Citation: Fett W, Fu T, Tortorello M. 2006. Seed Sprouts: the State of Microbiological Safety, p 167-219. In Matthews K, Doyle M (ed), Microbiology of Fresh Produce. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817527.ch6
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Image of Figure 2
Figure 2

Scanning electron micrograph of a native biofilm on the surface of a mung bean sprout cotyledon.

Citation: Fett W, Fu T, Tortorello M. 2006. Seed Sprouts: the State of Microbiological Safety, p 167-219. In Matthews K, Doyle M (ed), Microbiology of Fresh Produce. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817527.ch6
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Tables

Generic image for table
Table 1

Comparison of selected aqueous chemical treatments with Ca(OCl)for sanitizing alfalfa seed

Citation: Fett W, Fu T, Tortorello M. 2006. Seed Sprouts: the State of Microbiological Safety, p 167-219. In Matthews K, Doyle M (ed), Microbiology of Fresh Produce. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817527.ch6
Generic image for table
Table 2

Studies on the growth of bacterial human pathogens on sprouting seeds

Citation: Fett W, Fu T, Tortorello M. 2006. Seed Sprouts: the State of Microbiological Safety, p 167-219. In Matthews K, Doyle M (ed), Microbiology of Fresh Produce. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817527.ch6
Generic image for table
Table 3

Methods for detection of pathogens in sprouts, spent irrigation water, and seeds

Citation: Fett W, Fu T, Tortorello M. 2006. Seed Sprouts: the State of Microbiological Safety, p 167-219. In Matthews K, Doyle M (ed), Microbiology of Fresh Produce. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817527.ch6

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