The comments from the British Hospitality Association come as the UK Food Standards Agency is expected to issue revised guidance on the consumption of sprouted seeds such as alfalfa, mung beans (usually known as bean sprouts) and fenugreek.
The recent outbreak of E. Coli that originated in Germany has so far killed 43 and sickened almost 4,000 people. A further outbreak was reported in France at the end of last week, which initial investigations suggest is the same strain as the outbreak in Germany.
France’s consumer affairs Minister, Frederic Lefebvre, linked the outbreak last Friday to the seeds of UK company Thompson and Morgan, as he confirmed sale of three seed types – mustard, fenugreek and rocket – had been stopped in the country.
E.Coli precaution efforts
In light of these developments, BHA and other trade groups have met with the FSA to co-ordinate precaution efforts.
The association’s food and technical affairs adviser, John Dyson, is advising caterers to serve sprouted seeds only if they have been cooked thoroughly until steaming hot throughout; they should not be eaten raw, he said.
“This advice is for caterers as well as consumers and until the route source of contamination has been found both in France and Germany then the advice is likely to remain in place.”
To date no cases of food poisoning have been reported in the UK, but the FSA is in close contact with the Health Protection Agency which is monitoring the situation.