Don’t Eat Raw Alfalfa Sprouts

Don’t Eat Raw Alfalfa Sprouts
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Fecal bacteria may contaminate alfalfa seed sprouts and present a food safety risk.

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What about the quintessential health food—alfalfa sprouts? According to the American Dietetic Association, Food and Drug Administration, and Centers for Disease Control, no sprouts. There have been a number of serious outbreaks of food poisoning tied to sprouts. Take salmonella, for example. Last year, linked to sprouts, there were not one, not two, but about 100 cases of salmonella food poisoning, which is a gift that can keep on giving. You get salmonella once, and you may suffer from chronic arthritis for the rest of your life. So the CDC has decreed, no sprouts.

We should put this in context, though. Last year, sprout consumption led to 100 cases of salmonella poisoning. Compare that to eggs though, which caused 118,000 cases of salmonella poisoning last year. Do we hear the CDC saying don’t eat eggs? No, but they do say not to eat raw or runny eggs. Even sunny side up or scrambled does not eliminate the salmonella threat. Eggs have to be cooked hard to kill off the bacteria. Similarly, if we boiled our sprouts, they would be safe too—but I don’t know how appetizing that would be.

Disturbing data keeps coming in. How much of the potentially deadly Jack in the Box E. coli 0157 is found in retail beef, sprouts, and mushrooms? Well, none were found in any mushrooms, but one out of every 91 burgers is contaminated, and one out of just 67 alfalfa sprout containers. So, no burgers, no alfalfa sprouts—even homegrown. The bacteria can get into the nooks and crannies of the alfalfa seed itself that you may buy at the store.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

What about the quintessential health food—alfalfa sprouts? According to the American Dietetic Association, Food and Drug Administration, and Centers for Disease Control, no sprouts. There have been a number of serious outbreaks of food poisoning tied to sprouts. Take salmonella, for example. Last year, linked to sprouts, there were not one, not two, but about 100 cases of salmonella food poisoning, which is a gift that can keep on giving. You get salmonella once, and you may suffer from chronic arthritis for the rest of your life. So the CDC has decreed, no sprouts.

We should put this in context, though. Last year, sprout consumption led to 100 cases of salmonella poisoning. Compare that to eggs though, which caused 118,000 cases of salmonella poisoning last year. Do we hear the CDC saying don’t eat eggs? No, but they do say not to eat raw or runny eggs. Even sunny side up or scrambled does not eliminate the salmonella threat. Eggs have to be cooked hard to kill off the bacteria. Similarly, if we boiled our sprouts, they would be safe too—but I don’t know how appetizing that would be.

Disturbing data keeps coming in. How much of the potentially deadly Jack in the Box E. coli 0157 is found in retail beef, sprouts, and mushrooms? Well, none were found in any mushrooms, but one out of every 91 burgers is contaminated, and one out of just 67 alfalfa sprout containers. So, no burgers, no alfalfa sprouts—even homegrown. The bacteria can get into the nooks and crannies of the alfalfa seed itself that you may buy at the store.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Doctor's Note

More videos on salmonella food poisoning:

And check out my other videos on sprouts

For more context, see my associated blog posts: Breast Cancer Stem Cells vs. Broccoli and  Are Microgreens Healthier?

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

44 responses to “Don’t Eat Raw Alfalfa Sprouts

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  1. There was just tiny mention of at home sprouts containing this bacteria in the “nooks and crannies of the seed” itself.
    Would this apply to organically grown seeds? I’ve always sprouted seeds at home, without problems, always organic. If I soak seeds with vinegar added to soaking water, would that not kill the bacteria?




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    1. Even soaking seeds in a bleach solution may not guarantee safety. I would encourage you to move to a “nookless” seed like broccoli.




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      1. For god sake! Fecal matter, any micro alien matter might be on any food source from anywhere at any time…I had better just stop eating.Seriously, what sort of psychosis are you trying to engender here?Alfalfa sprouts are a healthy food source. Are you suggesting we stop drinking water because the water,the tap, the glass and even the air might contain or be infected with pathogens that will make us ill or even kill us.Do you apply your concerns to mainstream products like bread, sugar products and Beef?




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        1. I couldn’t agree more. Aflalfa sprouts are considered by many to be one of the most healthy vegetables you can consume. One of the guest benefits is how wonderfully they lower cholesterol. The government and the corrupt doctors would love to see this vegetable erased from existence.




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      2. OK that was the question i was about to ask. So broccoli sprouts are safe to eat raw? I was diagnosed with breast cancer a few months ago and am doing everything I can to stay healthy ;)




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    2. I would think you would kill the seed if you soaked it in the high acid vinegar, don’t know, just thinking, it killed my live sprouts when I accidentally put half a cup of vinegar in the auto spouter’s water instead of half a cup of Hydrogen Peroxide…




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  2. i sproute alfalfa seeds at home too, is there any trick to be safe? or may be same contamination from time to time is good to our organism to be aware?

    Thank you




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  3. I always grow my own alfalfa sprouts

    I soak them for approx 10 minutes in clean water, then
    rinse, add more fresh water and a 1/2 capful of H202 (food grade hydrogen peroxide)
    Let soak ovenight
    Rinse several times a day until ready




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  4. SHAME ON YOU for Lying to people!!  Thousands of us who have “done our homework” have discovered that the Reason for Existence of federal agencies like FDA and CDC, is to slant the truth to support commercial producers of often toxic, always less than nutritious things that wise people do not even call food. They are there to prop up the business of food processing, regardless of how it harms people – for Money! Furthermore, the administrations of these federal agencies have been caught repeatedly violating the strong negative recommendations of THEIR OWN FOOD CHEMISTS !!!  …saying that neurotoxins like Neotame, Aspartame, and Sucralose are Good for health, when they KNOW Positively that they’re serously harmful. Repent of your part in the Lies that Harm people !!  Do you really believe that you will ultimately “get away with” this evil?  Tell the Truth!




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    1.  Although I share your concerns about the ties of federal agencies such as the CDC, FDA and USDA with corporations I’m not sure what “lies” you think NutritionFacts.org are spreading. Dr. Greger cites well done scientific studies. The video on Aspartame shows that it is harmful see… http://nutritionfacts.org/video/is-nutrasweet®-bad-for-you/ and the one that covers a range of artificial sweeteners Sucralose see… http://nutritionfacts.org/video/a-harmless-artificial-sweetener/ along with the recent video on Stevia see… http://nutritionfacts.org/video/is-stevia-good-for-you/. I guess I disagree with your interpretation of the videos which I take to show clearly that consumers should avoid all artificial sweeteners and if they use sweeteners they should probably go with either  date sugar or molasses see… http://nutritionfacts.org/video/the-healthiest-sweetener/. The avoidance of sweeteners also relates to the amount of fructose. We use glucose in all our cells but fructose is metabolized by the liver into products that are not healthy. It gets complex and the science keeps changing so you need to keep tuned in as you never know when recommendations will change and we will develop a better understanding of the complexities of human nutrition. 




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  5. Does this cover all sprouts or just alfalfa? I’m hoping some are safe. Thank you for all your work, it’s hands down the best website I’ve ever been lucky enough to come across.




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  6. I plant alfalfa sprouts at home, and i have one question, what about sprouting alfalfa with red raddish? Red raddish sprouts are considered as antibacterial and inhibits growth of mold.




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  7. I just want to say thanks for all the GREAT INFORMATION you share on your site! I’m a research psychologist (I research nutrition and health behavior) and I appreciate your research/evidence based approach to nutrition. I just read a comment by someone who sounded completely ignorant. Please know that there are many of us out there who are thankful for what you do. Best nutrition site I’ve ever found, by far. Kudos on a job well done. Keep it up!




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    1. You are so sweet! Thank you so much for your kind words. So glad I can help. The nutritional science is just the first half though–we need social psychologists to help develop strategies to convince people to actually adopt healthier habits!




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  8. dr. gregor, i love your videos, but i have to SERIOUSLY question this one. do you make your own sprouts? if so, where does the fecal matter come from? i don’t add fecal matter to my alfalfa sprouts. do you? and if so, why do you? please know that i am laughing as i write this. alfalfa sprouts grown in a jar with a mesh lid are exposed only to water – unless you add your own fecal matter to the water. ??? i question this… now i am wondering if i need to question more of your data in other videos. ???




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  9. Doc: Your intent to inform and teach, specially the way you convey information is remarkable. Love the power points and your evidence based studies. The calm voice is inspiring.
    I understand sprouts bought in a store or mass produced has the same shortcomings of the dairy, meat and even vegetable industries. Spinach, Bird flu, Mad Cow disease are all expression of a non sustainable system which is used and abused with hormones, steroids and herbicides, respectively.

    Alfalfa sprouts happens to be one of the most alkalizing micro greens available. It supports renal elimination and metabolic waste neutralization among the dozens of enzymes, natural growth hormones and minerals it contains. In fact, any sprout will have this characteristic since the young shoot is quickly growing. We cannot question nature… only question how man interferes with nature. If correctly sprouted, it is a superfood.

    I believe in a more sustainable, nutritious and whole food based diet, as I am sure you do!

    The CDC and FDA are agencies which protect the public to a certain extent, but really, what do they know of superior nutrition.

    Your video is wonderful and I would like the message to retain its purity. People want information to improve their health, lets give it to them.




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    1. I just ate a spinach salad with raw alfalfa sprouts, straight from my local grocery. I was looking for different recipes to use the sprouts so my purchase doesn’t go bad. I find this conversation interesting; fertilizer (or as Yal put it, fecal matter) has gotten way out of hand. Society & the nervousness of eating or even going outside is ridiculous! I grew up sharing carrots with many different heads of horses & never once did I get sick. I watch the world around us change, not for the better, as people spray pesticides, fertilizers (man-made), nutralizers (also man-made ), onto their lawns killing & contaminating the water supply we so desperately need to survive yet, scream organic none chemically grown food! Is it ironic or am I, along with many other farmer’s & naturalist, think this world has gone stupid? I ate my sprouts no problem…..have for a few days without any problems. Maybe my immune system is stronger then most because I played in dirt, ate with my show horses & probably ingested more dirt then one should, who knows. My whole point to all this though, if you’re gonna preach about being & eating healthy; look at your yard cause I guarantee you flip when you see a weed & grab your chemical bottle to end it’s life so you can compete with your neighbor on ‘who has the greenest weed free yard!’ I live in a state that has no water left, 250,000 hecta acres of precious sea grass & sea weed are dead from chemical run off! (we also have glowing man-made algea in fresh water rivers & lake’s) Chain reaction…..then the marine life goes, then we go, can’t eat contaminated fish or shell fish; rinsing with water don’t fix that. Take care of your planet, she’ll take care of you & by the way….let the weeds grow.




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  10. I’m sick of these so called doctor’s try to sucker people when you should be helping people but that’s the wait is now, you can keep giving out bogus information for profit.




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    1. No profit is had here at nutritionfacts.org, its purely donation run. Furthermore, all the information here is backed with scientific evidence and the evidence is available for viewing in the sources cited section below the video.




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  11. http://www.cdc.gov/features/dsfoodborneoutbreaks/ “A large outbreak of Salmonella infections in 2010 caused nearly 2000 illnesses. Among the outbreaks attributed to a food vehicle composed of ingredients from only one of 17 defined food commodities, the commodities most often implicated were beef (13%), dairy (12%, nearly all unpasteurized), fish (12%), and poultry (11%).”

    Been eating alfalfa, raw mushrooms and every other edible raw vegetable there is my whole life…. never sick once from that, nor do I know someone getting sick from such either. In contrast, I have gotten sick twice (Burger and Fajita) no sprouts there. There is a risk in every single bite of food we eat unless we eat synthetic “glow in the dark” foods. Placing an article saying DON’T EAT RAW ALFALFA SPROUTS sound very uneducated. Instead, provide solutions from avoiding contamination or dealing with it should be more appropriated coming from a passionate nutrition professional, such as combine the consumption of alfalfa sprouts with properly cleaned cilantro http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coriander “Chemicals derived from coriander leaves were found to have antibacterial activity against Salmonella choleraesuis, and this activity was found to be caused in part by these chemicals acting as nonionic surfactants”




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  12. Thanks for your informative videos. But I don´t understand..where is the salmonella coming from? We know how its get into chicken or hamburger meat. How and at what point is the bacteria getting into the sprouts? As you may recall sprouts were claimed to be responsible for the death of over forty people in Germany a couple of years ago. But it was not caused directly by the grower of the bio sprouts here in Germany but was traced back to the seed?? company in Egypt. So is it the seeds or what? Thanks again!!




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  13. I’ve been eating alfalfa sprouts and mushrooms for over 30 years. No case of salmonella poisoning in this body. In this day and age, anything can kill us. People just worry too much. If it wasn’t good for us, God would never have made it for us to eat.




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  14. I got sick (bad headache & tummy ache) 2 days in a row at a health retreat after eating beautiful raw vegan salads generously topped with several kinds of sprouts. When I told the doctor there about it, he advised me to skip the alfalfa sprouts. The next day I avoided the alfalfa sprouts but ate everything else, and I was fine the rest of the time. I haven’t touched alfalfa sprouts since. It’s too bad because they are yummy and refreshing, but fortunately there are other types of sprouts that are far less risky to eat.




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    1. Hi There! It looks like there is some research on ozone and alfalfa sprouts. This is a newer study (2015). I am not sure how it’s being applied, if at all. Let me know if this helps? Related articles can be found along the right side of the link. Thanks for sharing the USDA study.

      Joseph




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  15. Unfortunately, there is another good reason to avoid alfalfa sprouts: they contain canavanine, an amino acid antagonist. The concentration of canavanine in alfalfa sprouts is about 15,000 ppm or 1.5% by weight. Canavanine is a potent L-arginine antimetabolite and has been linked to lupus-like symptoms and other auto-immune diseases in humans. Broccoli, radish, etc. are probably a better idea for sprouts.




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  16. Don’t listen to this crap. Buy local and grow at home. If you shop good food and buy at a reputable place you should never worry about sprouts etc. Believing in this kind of message makes you a dumb shit of the highest accord. If you are buying food at Wal-mart then you should be more afraid, but no one educated in sprouts, micro-greens, and super foods will support this kind of scare tactic. BTW, salmonella on eggs only ever can exist on the outside of the shell. A good wash before cracking them open will be very safe. Please wake up on you food choices and know that you can control your nutrition much better than the government or the big agro dickhead companies that are really out to destroy for a buck!




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  17. This article is beyond ridiculous. Oh yes.. BEWARE of the eeeevil sprouts!!!!

    “We should put this in context though, last year sprout consumption led to 100 cases of salmonella poisoning. Compare that to eggs though, which caused 118 thousand of salmonella poisoning last year…”

    Oh yes please, thank you. Put it in context.

    Oh I see now, when actually put in the context of REALITY I can see that the context of this article is purely IMAGINARY.

    Thanks!




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    1. Aaron, this article is only saying don’t eat raw alfalfa sprouts – no other sprouts, just the alfalfa, due to the fecal matter found in the nooks of the seeds that can be contaminated. Instead of alfalfa, many alternatives are suggested.




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  18. I haven’t read anything on clover sprouts. I don’t particularly care for broccoli sprouts, but I like clover sprouts almost as much as alfalfa.




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  19. Sprouts are known as natures healer to the Native Indians……..wash them like anything I have been eating them for decades and they have helped, (along with cutting down on milk, sugar and white flour) solve my skin conditions and my chronic sinus infections
    FYI (The one case they are talking about…….. the contamination was in the water used – not the sprout)




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