Is it Safe to Eat Raw Bean Sprouts?

Bean sprouts are so delicious and nutritious but is it safe to eat raw bean sprouts?

Bean Sprouts are grown in warm moist conditions where bacteria like Salmonella, E-coli and Listeria can (and do) thrive. Washing the bean sprouts won’t kill the bacteria, so eating raw bean sprouts has a higher risk of food poisoning than most other foods.

According to an article in the Guardian, bean sprouts should be viewed like oysters when it comes to safety, and as long as you’re not in the high-risk group, and as long as you know about the risk of food poisoning, then it’s up to you whether or not you eat raw bean sprouts.

Other sites take the more bleak view that you should only eat thoroughly cooked bean sprouts.

Sprouted mung beans: is it safe to eat raw bean sprouts?
Sprouted mung beans

Guidelines for Eating Bean Sprouts

No matter where you look, the recommendations are almost all the same – don’t eat raw beansprouts.

There are plenty of videos on Youtube however, of people who do eat raw bean sprouts giving advice on how to sprout your own beans at home. And there are many whole foods plant based people who eat raw bean sprouts on a daily basis.

The choice, ultimately is yours.

But the recommendations are what they are and the risk is real. If you do choose to eat raw bean sprouts despite the risk of bacterial infection, they are full of plant protein and phytonutrients.

General guidelines for eating bean sprouts include:

  • Thoroughly rinse the beans before sprouting.
  • Buy beans intended for sprouting.
  • Wash sprouts with drinking water before using.
  • Store bean sprouts in the refrigerator.
  • Wash your hands before handling the beans.
  • Only use sprouts that are fresh, bright in colour and crunchy. Discard soggy sprouts or discoloured sprouts.
  • Cook sprouts before eating.
  • Especially the high-risk group should avoid eating bean sprouts. High risk: children under 5, people over 70, pregnant women and people with weakened immune system.
  • According to some sources, home grown sprouts are no safer than shop bought sprouts, while other sites recommend home sprouted beans for reducing the risk of contamination.

It’s clear that there is a real risk of contamination and many recorded food poisoning outbreaks including deaths from eating contaminated bean sprouts.

How Beans Sprouts Get Contaminated?

Apparently the beans can get contaminated anywhere along the production line from beginning to end: while growing in fields they can be infected from manure or fertiliser for example, or from contaminated water; during handling of the beans or the growing of the sprouts to packaging, or even during handling at home.

Accordingly, beansprouts should be thoroughly cooked through to kill any bacteria that might be present, and not just tossed in a stir fry.

Well I don’t know about you, but the incredibleness of bean sprouts comes from their super crunch. What’s nicer than an added crunch in an otherwise soggy sandwich? Or the added flavour of lightly tossed bean sprouts in a stir fry?

Oh dear, whatever shall we do without the crunchy beansprout?

Don’t Be Too Quick to Discount Bean Sprouts

Ok so I get it, you don’t want to eat raw bean sprouts now because you might get a dose of E.Coli or Salmonella, but before you write them off altogether, take a look at all the nutritional benefits of eating bean sprouts to your diet.

And also note that Dr Berg believes that sprouting beans at home offers reduced risk of infection.

Bean sprouts are incredibly easy to make at home, and even if you don’t want to eat them raw, you can still use them in some delicious cooked meals.

And while we’re talking about beans, mung bean soup is just one of the many delicious and nutritious ways to eat mung beans.

Simple, fast, delicious.

Ultimately it’s up to you, so what’s it gonna be, to eat or not to eat raw bean sprouts?

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