Kroger has put another nail in the imminent coffin of the sprout industry by announcing that it’s removing sprouts from the shelves of its 2,425 stores because of potential health concerns according to NPR.
Sprouts have been on healthy menus around the world for many years due to the high nutrient levels they contain and the high levels of freshness they’re associated with. However, health experts have speculated that it’s the freshness of sprouts that are responsible for the problems they’ve been causing lately.
Sprouts Linked to Outbreaks
Sprouts have been linked to an excess of 54 different outbreaks of various microorganism-related illnesses since 1990. These include a massive E. coli outbreak in Germany last year that resulted in widespread illness, as well as 53 actual deaths.
More and more retail outlets and restaurants have been taking sprouts out of their personal equation over this period of time in order to avoid association with similar outbreaks. These numbers have only escalated over the past two years in particular with Kroger among the most recent.
"Sprouts present a unique challenge because pathogens may reside inside of the seeds where they cannot be reached by the currently available processing interventions," says Kroger’s food safety president Payton Pruett.
Other major retailers to remove sprouts from their shelves have included Wal-Mart in October of 2010, as well as Trader Joe’s.
It is uncertain where these recent developments leave sprout farmers going forward into the future. Possible solutions to the contamination problems include the implementation of new disinfectant options. However, these disinfectants have yet to be approved for use by the FDA. In the meantime, business is expected to continue to decline drastically for the sprout industry.