Like sprouts? Experts say cook first to be safe

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Michelle Smith, a sprout safety expert at the FDA, says one of the most important things sprout growers can do is to test water that is used to wash the sprouts as they are growing. If that water is contaminated, it is a good indication that the sprouts are, too, she says. That step is more foolproof than irradiating or using a bleach wash on the seeds, as some growers do.

Smith adds that people who want to grow their own sprouts may face the same risks that professionals do. There is a chance the seeds you buy are contaminated, and most people aren’t going to have a chance to get their product tested.

Bob Sanderson, president of the U.S.-based International Sprout Growers Association, said the industry is hoping the FDA will do even more to ensure sprout safety. Sanderson’s group, which represents 45 producers around the world, named June “Sprout Health and Wellness Month.”

“In a way, it is kind of international sprout month,” he said. “Just maybe not in the way we hoped.”

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AP Medical Writer Maria Cheng reported from London. Associated Press writers David Rising in Berlin and J.M. Hirsch in Concord, N.H., contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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