Food watchdog advises against raw sprouted seeds

London: Britain`s Food Standards Agency has recommended that sprouted seeds be cooked thoroughly before consumption, and advised against eating them raw, following an outbreak of E.coli poisoning in France.

"Following further cases of E. coli in France, the FSA is revising its guidance on the consumption of sprouted seeds such as alfalfa, mung beans -- usually known as beansprouts -- and fenugreek," said an updated statement issued over the weekend.

"As a precaution, the Agency is advising that sprouted seeds should only be eaten if they have been cooked thoroughly until steaming hot throughout; they should not be eaten raw," it added on Saturday.

A British mail order plant and seed company has meanwhile distanced itself from claims that its products might have been behind the French outbreak.

Thompson & Morgan, which is based in Ipswich in eastern England, is co-operating with the investigation into the matter.

Frederic Lefebvre, French secretary of state for consumer affairs, on Friday linked seed sprouts sold by the company to 10 suspected cases of E.coli poisoning around the region of Bordeaux, southwestern France.

The FSA has already stressed that no cases of such food poisoning have yet occurred in Britain.

"The investigations into the outbreak of E. coli in France have suggested a possible link to sprouting seeds from a company based in the UK," the FSA said on Saturday.

"To date, no cases of food poisoning have been reported in the UK linked to the outbreak in France.

"We are in close contact with the Health Protection Agency who is actively monitoring the situation."

And it added: "The Agency also advises that equipment which has been used for sprouting seeds should be cleaned thoroughly after use. You should always wash your hands after handling seeds intended for planting or sprouting."

Bureau Report

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