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FDA Issues Draft Guidance for Salad Sprouts


In recent years, salad sprouts have been identified as a vehicle for foodborne infection.  Accordingly the Center for Food Safety and Nutrition (CFSAN) has issued “Draft Guidance for Reducing Microbial Food Safety Hazards in the Production of Seeds For Sprouting.”  After extensive evaluation, FDA-CFSAN has incorporated common-sense directions but of questionable efficacy to be adopted by the industry.  These include training of personnel in food safety, providing clean and well maintained toilet and hand washing facilities, storing seed for sprouting separately from seed for other uses and insuring that food contact surfaces are impervious and can be clean.  An important directive is that seed should be transported in a manner that minimizes contamination with pathogens.


Although the recommendations contained in the draft guidance are well-meaning, they do not rise to the level of a critical control point in an HACCP program.  The final product as distributed to food manufacturers and the food service industry must be treated by a process that significantly reduces or eliminates foodborne bacteria including Salmonella, E. coli and Listeria.  Some form of fumigation or alternatively electron beam treatment is obviously required.