Sprouts are considered the healthiest snack and are liked by all age groups and as people are looking for healthy, inexpensive, and convenient food, it fits best in this category. Doing sprouting at home requires long hours but in this high-paced world, people have a very hectic schedule and lack time for themselves so they end up going to the supermarket and buy raw sprouts from there. Therefore, it becomes essential to check the safety of fresh sprouts to prevent the large masses from being infected.
What are sprouts?
Sprouts are germinated seeds that by time become very young plants. The natural process through which germination occurs is called sprouting. Initially, the seeds are soaked for a longer duration (20 minutes to 12 hours or more), then the required combination of temperature and moisture (35°C and relative humidity of 80%) is provided to the soaked seeds, and are permitted to grow for two to seven days. Lately, the product obtained is a fresh sprout. The optimum conditions required for the sprouting are also ideal for the rapid growth of several bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella, listeria, and molds. There are chances of pre-harvest and post-harvest contamination. Pre-harvest contamination sources include the type of fertilizer used, irrigation water, or soil quality. Post-harvest contamination of sprouts may occur during storage, handling, and transportation of the sprouts.
There are several foodborne outbreaks associated with sprouts. The first outbreak recorded due to the consumption of sprouts was in 1973. In a recent population-based survey, most of the patients who were diagnosed with foodborne diseases had consumed alfalfa sprouts. There are several physicals, chemical, and biological treatments that can be given to sprouts to reduce the risk of foodborne diseases. Let’s check out the processing of sprouts.