Why Are Bean Sprouts So Damn Prone to E. Coli and Salmonella?

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Flickr user therealbrute

German officials are now discounting news that the horrible E. coli outbreak spreading across Europe was not caused by contaminated bean sprouts, as they previously thought. It wasn't an entirely foolish theory, like that one that blamed the Spaniards for unsanitary condition that led to thousands of ill folks and too many deaths: bean sprouts are notorious carriers of E. coli, and have been linked to at least 40 cases of such illnesses in the United States, Canada, and Europe alone.

So why are bean sprouts so susceptible, more so than nearly any other vegetable? It's more than mere precautionary measures, you know.

Turns out it's the conditions in which bean sprouts grow the best are also the conditions in which the bacterium that cause E. coli and salmonella grow the best. This poses an "inherent problem," according to a University of Washington scientist quoted by Food and Safety News. The conditions are so ripe, that the bacteria can actually get into the seed, even before they sprout, and grow alongside the sprout, like any good parasite.

The good doctor's advice? Wash them--hot. No cold wash. And now you know why the only sprouts I'll eat are those dropped in a steaming bowl of pho...

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