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Are Sprouts Safe?

Sprouts have been grown and eaten for over 5000 years. They are a concentrated storehouse of phytochemicals which protect against disease. These mini vegetables are some of the healthiest and safest foods available today. Sprouts are safe for everyone. Growing your own sprouts will give you one of the safest, healthiest, most nutritious foods available anywhere.

In mid 2011, in addition to many other "fear factors", dispersion was once more cast upon sprouts and in particular "bean sprouts" in Germany and alfalfa sprouts in the USA; all this within the context of banning vitamins and food additives in Germany and attempted enforcing of the now infamous "Codex Alimentarius" disguised under the banners of various "Food Safety Acts."  This has in turn instigated responses from various respected and knowledgeable sources which are herewith reprinted in their entirities with special acknowledgements to my good friend Steve Meyerowitz also known as "Sproutman" and Mike Adams also known as Health Ranger and the author of Natural News.

 

Are Sprouts Safe to Eat? 

By Steve Meyerowitz, Sproutman® 

Sprouts have been in the news lately. Unfortunately bad news travels faster than good news and even if the bad news turns out as inaccurate, the damage done may be impossible to repair. Presently, no less than two politicians have resigned from office after making headline news about scandals. In both cases, the accusations of their guilt have done sufficient damage to end their careers regardless of whether or not they are ultimately exonerated.  

Right up front I’ll tell you that looking at the statistics relative to other foods sprouts are very safe and that I think they are taking the heat for what is a universal food industry problem. Whether it is E. coli or salmonella, sprouts are an easy target. As an industry, it is economically small and weak. Sadly, the sprout industry has never been organized well enough to speak out in its own defense. So consumers like you don’t get to hear the other side of the story and the bad news just sticks.

Sprouts make the news for a few reasons: First, they’re a health food and it is a sensational news story when a “health food” makes people sick. Second, they are a raw food, so sprouts don’t kill bacteria as you do when you poach an egg or barbeque a burger. Third, the warmth and moisture needed for germination is also a good environment for propagating bacteria.

That being said, E. coli is not a sprout problem any more than it is a tomato, spinach, or lettuce problem. Same thing for salmonella. The source of these bacteria is the intestines of a cow or a chicken. It is manure that infects food and no food is immune to contamination. Dried particles of cow manure can drift onto vegetables by riding the dust from the ranch up the road. Since 100,000 E. coli can fit on the head of a pin, it doesn’t take much to contaminate your crop. It can get on your shoes or clothes and then the worker becomes the carrier. If it gets into the water and the water washes produce, then that food becomes the vehicle. So when people get poisoned, who is to blame? Should we blame the sprouts? The cucumbers? The farmers? The cows? This is a complex problem.

Food Poisoning Is Serious Business 

I don’t want for a second to forget that thousands of people have been sickened or the dozens killed by food poisoning. Truly, no farmer of sprouts, produce, or beef wants the result of their hard work to harm anyone. Sprouts are in a unique position because the very things that makes them healthy—their raw, bio-active state and the miracle of germination—are also the factors that make them susceptible to transporting microbes.  

No one wants to cook green sprouts for the same reason we don’t want to cook our lettuce or cucumbers. We already have enough processed, canned, microwaved, fried, and irradiated foods in our society. Our high rates of obesity and diabetes are testifying loudly that we need to eat more raw, natural foods for optimum health. Even the U.S. National Cancer Institute recommends five portions of raw fruit or vegetables daily as part of their cancer prevention diet. For our health’s sake, we need to be able to consume fruits, vegetables, and other plant foods in their vital state. 

Should you be worried when you harvest those greens from your backyard garden? Could an animal have contaminated them? When you eat out in a restaurant, have the workers practiced good hygiene that day? There are risks inherent in eating natural foods. But would you prefer to only eat cooked and canned? Irradiated or pasteurized? We’ve had this scare before with raw milk and unpasteurized (raw) apple cider. Now those foods—which your grandparents grew up with—have been outlawed. 

  

 

Could It Be on the Seeds? 

Seeds are a possible avenue of contamination for sprouts and any other type of seeds, nuts, and grains. Droppings or particles of manure can contaminate seed during harvesting. Last week I received a recall request for sesame seeds that I had purchased for personal use. They were just for eating, not sprouting. But the distributor contacted us and required me to dispose of them. And perhaps you have noticed that raw tahini is no longer available for purchase. (Tahini is made from sesame seeds.) Since sprouts are a form of seed intensive gardening, the sprout industry has focused on testing and retesting its seeds. Although I am not a commercial grower, I do have a line of organic sprouting seeds. Most of the time, my focus is on getting the best growth qualities. I select my seeds for such factors as no mold, best germination, fastest rate of growth, tallest, greenest, best taste. I want you to have a delicious and bountiful growing experience.  

But I also check for the invisible. First the farmer provides a certificate of analysis (in most cases) in which he guarantees that the seed was tested for pathogens such as E. coli and salmonella. But I rarely buy direct from the farmer. I mostly buy from seed warehouses. The warehouses also test their seed. (Test number two.) They poke a test tube into every bag and merge all the samples together. The lab tests the seeds for a variety of pathogens, and issues a certificate.  Until this certificate is issued, those seeds are quarantined. As soon as they can be sold, professional sprout growers test a third time. They test the rinse water from the growing sprouts and hold their product from release to the public until the lab results on that batch return clean. If the seeds were uniformly contaminated, there is a 99% chance it would show up on one of these 3 tests. There is no such thing as 100% in microbiology. 

Commercial sprout growers follow strict sanitary procedures much like silicone chip manufacturers. They wear hairnets, booties, gloves, and follow lots of sanitary rules above and beyond the simple washing of hands. But this is a small industry with many players who unfortunately do not all follow the rules. The organic sprout farm in Saxony (Germany), for example, is not a member of the International Sprout Growers Association. Sadly, we don’t know anything about their manufacturing practices. We don’t know if they tested their seeds. Until all sprout growers can follow established safety protocols, outbreaks caused by independents will perpetuate fear for consumers buying product even from the safest and most conscientious companies. 

Implication Vs. Verification 

Governments have a responsibility to keep food safe and safety regulators have a tough job. They need to identify the source of the contaminated food, which means tracing invisible bacteria. In order to minimize the damage, they need to identify the contaminated food quickly and stop people from eating it. That’s not easy. Through the course of interviews, they attempt to isolate the foods eaten by the sickened consumers. If they can find a thread connecting the same food in those interviews, then that food becomes suspect. Often this is enough evidence, but not always. It is by no means a perfect system. But lives are at stake so they need to move fast, and sometimes they just have to go with their best guess based on these interviews. But regulators have also gotten it wrong.  

In the case of German E. coli outbreak, at first they thought it was the Spanish cucumbers. Then they thought it was the tomatoes. Then they implicated the farm in lower Saxony that grows organic vegetables and also has a greenhouse for growing sprouts. They never actually found traces of the bacteria in the sprout factory or anywhere on the organic farm. However, the authorities need to take their best shot and stop the distribution of the potentially contaminated food. Their job is to protect the public and calm their fears. If they cannot identify the culprit, then the political and economic pressures increase. Finding the guilty food is both a health and safety as well as a political and economic necessity, regardless of whether or not that food is ultimately proven to be guilty. 

 

  

This was the case in 1996 in Japan when radish sprouts were accused of the largest E. coli outbreak in history (more people sickened than in Germany). Press releases warned consumers against eating sprouts. Sprout sales plummeted worldwide. But ultimately the Japanese government admitted that sprouts were not at fault and compensated sprout growers for damages. Sadly for the sprout industry, the implication was front page news, but the retraction got little press. Even today, most people believe that radish sprouts were the cause of that outbreak. It even remains a part of government documents and research articles. The repercussions from that event continue to trigger suspicions about sprouts whenever outbreaks occur.  

What Is the Sprout Industry Doing to Protect You 

The commercial sprout growers trade association (ISGA) www.isga-sprouts.org is too small to regulate all sprout growers. Their active members take food safety very seriously and follow strict sanitary handling procedures and the lab testing of both the seed and grown sprouts. The ISGA has recently developed a sprout-specific safety protocol in conjunction with the National Center for Food Safety and Technology (NCFST). But there are hundreds of commercial growers who are not members of the trade association (including the farm in Germany). Their safety procedures are simply unknown. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has recommended sprout growers use a heavy dose of bleach to kill pathogens. But most growers are reluctant to follow that because it is hazardous both to employees and the environment. Its effectiveness is also a question. Pathogens can hide out in the crevices where fluids like bleach and water barely penetrate. There are several promising alternative measures such as pasteurizing seeds briefly at temperatures under 200°F. show promise. And home growers often ask about disinfecting seeds with hydrogen peroxide or grapefruit seed extract. Unfortunately, we don’t have enough data to evaluate their effectiveness. Personally, I have seen their misuse ruin too many crops. Again, I think growing the sprouts and testing the rinse water is one of the most reliable tests we have. 

Meat and Irradiation 

The meat industry would like nothing better than to keep the focus on sprouts. Remember, it is manure that is the root of this contamination. The virulent Shiga strain of E. coli O104 in Germany that caused 41 deaths was likely a mutation caused by the cattle industry’s overindulgence and pre-emptive use of antibiotics. Since the bugs became familiar with the drugs, they didn’t work when the docs needed them to save lives. In the hysteria after an outbreak, it is politically expedient to find a smoking gun. When at first the Spanish cucumbers were blamed, Spain’s agricultural commissioner went on TV and lambasted the Germans for blaming cucumbers without sufficient proof. With loses of about 300 million dollars per day, Germany backed down. Pointing the finger at the tiny sprout industry, however, results in no resistance and minimal economic fallout. What about meat and poultry? Beef, baloney, poultry, and cheese were, since 2006, responsible for 9 out of the last 12 E. coli outbreaks in the U.S. But most of the time, the beef industry’s use of irradiation gets them off the hook. Irradiation is like giving your food a chest X-Ray. It means exposing food to radioactive isotopes. While it kills pathogens, it also kills and weakens sprouts. This then decreases the sprouts’ natural resistance to bacteria, shortens their lifespan, and makes them susceptible to other forms of contamination. That takes us right back to where we started. 

The Big Picture 

Here’s the bigger picture. According to the U.S. disease control center (CDC), there are 1.4 million cases of food poisoning annually in the United States. Of these, confirmed cases due to sprouts count in the dozens. This does not mean for a second that sprout growers should relax their efforts on safety and prevention. All it says is that sprouts should not be considered the default cause whenever another cannot be found. If sprouts are going to be implicated by interviews in the absence of laboratory evidence, then the public should know the full story—that is most bean sprout growers have effective systems in place to minimize the likelihood of contamination. This is true in the U.S. and also in Japan and Korea where bean sprouts have been a staple of the diet for hundreds of years and production methods are very sophisticated. 

Sure, sprouts can be carriers of pathogens. But rather than blaming them by default, the emphasis should be on preventing contamination of plant foods by manure. In this regard, the first step ought to be regulating the overuse of antibiotics in concentrated animal feeding operations. 

Then, we ought to redesign our broad distribution of food from central, high-volume facilities that co-mingle products from many different places. This allows a single source of contamination to spread quickly to a lot of people. Smaller-scale production, on the other hand, has an intrinsically lower-risk. And by the way, sprouts are among the most locally produced foods we have.

If we don’t start working smarter in our struggle against food poisoning, then sprouts won’t be the only casualty. Next will come the push to irradiate all fresh foods. This will definitely be a disincentive for small startup food businesses and ultimately could result in higher prices and reduced availability of healthier fresh and natural foods. Let’s hope government regulators can demonstrate sanity and sound policy. It is your food choices we’re talking about so please make your voices heard wherever you can.

P.S. If you want to help the tiny sprout industry defend itself in the press, please visit  www.isga-sprouts.org/contributiongen.htm and give whatever you can.

Copyright ©2011 by Steve Meyerowitz

 

Forensic evidence emerges that European e.coli superbug was bioengineered to produce human fatalities

Monday, June 06, 2011
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger
Editor of NaturalNews.com


Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/032622_ecoli_bioengineering.html#ixzz1RsgrnHWu

Even as the veggie blame game is now under way across the EU, where a super resistant strain of e.coli is sickening patients and filling hospitals in Germany, virtually no one is talking about how e.coli could have magically become resistant to eight different classes of antibiotic drugs and then suddenly appeared in the food supply.

This particular e.coli variation is a member of the O104 strain, and O104 strains are almost never (normally) resistant to antibiotics. In order for them to acquire this resistance, they must be repeatedly exposed to antibiotics in order to provide the "mutation pressure" that nudges them toward complete drug immunity.

So if you're curious about the origins of such a strain, you can essentially reverse engineer the genetic code of the e.coli and determine fairly accurately which antibiotics it was exposed to during its development. This step has now been done (see below), and when you look at the genetic decoding of this O104 strain now threatening food consumers across the EU, a fascinating picture emerges of how it must have come into existence.

The genetic code reveals the history

When scientists at Germany's Robert Koch Institute decoded the genetic makeup of the O104 strain, they found it to be resistant to all the following classes and combinations of antibiotics:

• penicillins
• tetracycline
• nalidixic acid
• trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazol
• cephalosporins
• amoxicillin / clavulanic acid
• piperacillin-sulbactam
• piperacillin-tazobactam

In addition, this O104 strain posses an ability to produce special enzymes that give it what might be called "bacteria superpowers" known technically as ESBLs:

"Extended-Spectrum Beta-Lactamases (ESBLs) are enzymes that can be produced by bacteria making them resistant to cephalosporins e.g. cefuroxime, cefotaxime and ceftazidime - which are the most widely used antibiotics in many hospitals," explains the Health Protection Agency in the UK (http://www.hpa.org.uk/Topics/Infect...).

On top of that, this O104 strain possesses two genes -- TEM-1 and CTX-M-15 -- that "have been making doctors shudder since the 1990s," reports The Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentis...). And why do they make doctors shudder? Because they're so deadly that many people infected with such bacteria experience critical organ failure and simply die.

Bioengineering a deadly superbug

So how, exactly, does a bacterial strain come into existence that's resistant to over a dozen antibiotics in eight different drug classes and features two deadly gene mutations plus ESBL enzyme capabilities?

There's really only one way this happens (and only one way) -- you have to expose this strain of e.coli to all eight classes of antibiotics drugs. Usually this isn't done at the same time, of course: You first expose it to penicillin and find the surviving colonies which are resistant to penicillin. You then take those surviving colonies and expose them to tetracycline. The surviving colonies are now resistant to both penicillin and tetracycline. You then expose them to a sulfa drug and collect the surviving colonies from that, and so on. It is a process of genetic selection done in a laboratory with a desired outcome. This is essentially how some bioweapons are engineered by the U.S. Army in its laboratory facility in Ft. Detrick, Maryland (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nation...).

Although the actual process is more complicated than this, the upshot is that creating a strain of e.coli that's resistant to eight classes of antibiotics requires repeated, sustained expose to those antibiotics. It is virtually impossible to imagine how this could happen all by itself in the natural world. For example, if this bacteria originated in the food (as we've been told), then where did it acquire all this antibiotic resistance given the fact that antibiotics are not used in vegetables?

When considering the genetic evidence that now confronts us, it is difficult to imagine how this could happen "in the wild." While resistance to a single antibiotic is common, the creation of a strain of e.coli that's resistant to eight different classes of antibiotics -- in combination -- simply defies the laws of genetic permutation and combination in the wild. Simply put, this superbug e.coli strain could not have been created in the wild. And that leaves only one explanation for where it really came from: the lab.

Engineered and then released into the wild

The evidence now points to this deadly strain of e.coli being engineered and then either being released into the food supply or somehow escaping from a lab and entering the food supply inadvertently. If you disagree with that conclusion -- and you're certainly welcome to -- then you are forced to conclude that this octobiotic superbug (immune to eight classes of antibiotics) developed randomly on its own... and that conclusion is far scarier than the "bioengineered" explanation because it means octobiotic superbugs can simply appear anywhere at any time without cause. That would be quite an exotic theory indeed.

My conclusion actually makes more sense: This strain of e.coli was almost certainly engineered and then released into the food supply for a specific purpose. What would that purpose be? It's obvious, I hope.

It's all problem, reaction, solution at work here. First cause a PROBLEM (a deadly strain of e.coli in the food supply). Then wait for the public REACTION (huge outcry as the population is terrorized by e.coli). In response to that, enact your desired SOLUTION (total control over the global food supply and the outlawing of raw sprouts, raw milk and raw vegetables).

That's what this is all about, of course. The FDA relied on the same phenomenon in the USA when pushing for its recent "Food Safety Modernization Act" which essentially outlaws small family organic farms unless they lick the boots of FDA regulators. The FDA was able to crush farm freedom in America by piggybacking on the widespread fear that followed e.coli outbreaks in the U.S. food supply. When people are afraid, remember, it's not difficult to get them to agree to almost any level of regulatory tyranny. And making people afraid of their food is a simple matter... a few government press releases emailed to the mainstream media news affiliates is all it takes.

First ban the natural medicine, then attack the food supply

Now, remember: All this is happening on the heels of the EU ban on medicinal herbs and nutritional supplements -- a ban that blatantly outlaws nutritional therapies that help keep people healthy and free from disease. Now that all these herbs and supplements are outlawed, the next step is to make people afraid of fresh food, too. That's because fresh vegetables are medicinal, and as long as the public has the right to buy fresh vegetables, they can always prevent disease.

But if you can make people AFRAID of fresh vegetables -- or even outlaw them altogether -- then you can force the entire population onto a diet of dead foods and processed foods that promote degenerative disease and bolster the profits of the powerful drug companies.

It's all part of the same agenda, you see: Keep people sick, deny them access to healing herbs and supplements, then profit from their suffering at the hands of the global drug cartels.

GMOs play a similar role in all this, of course: They're designed to contaminate the food supply with genetic code that causes widespread infertility among human beings. And those who are somehow able to reproduce after exposure to GMOs still suffer from degenerative disease that enriches the drug companies from "treatment."

Do you recall which country was targeted in this recent e.coli scare? Spain. Why Spain? You may recall that leaked cables from Wikileaks revealed that Spain resisted the introduction of GMOs into its agricultural system, even as the U.S. government covertly threatened political retaliation for its resistance. This false blaming of Spain for the e.coli deaths is probably retaliation for Spain's unwillingness to jump on the GMO bandwagon. (http://www.naturalnews.com/030828_G...)

That's the real story behind the economic devastation of Spain's vegetable farmers. It's one of the subplots being pursued alongside this e.coli superbug scheme.

Food as weapons of war - created by Big Pharma?

By the way, the most likely explanation of where this strain of e.coli was bioengineered is that the drug giants came up with it in their own labs. Who else has access to all the antibiotics and equipment needed to manage the targeted mutations of potentially thousands of e.coli colonies? The drug companies are uniquely positioned to both carry out this plot and profit from it. In other words, they have the means and the motive to engage in precisely such actions.

Aside from the drug companies, perhaps only the infectious disease regulators themselves have this kind of laboratory capacity. The CDC, for example, could probably pull this off if they really wanted to.

The proof that somebody bioengineered this e.coli strain is written right in the DNA of the bacteria. That's forensic evidence, and what it reveals cannot be denied. This strain underwent repeated and prolonged exposure to eight different classes of antibiotics, and then it somehow managed to appear in the food supply. How do you get to that if not through a well-planned scheme carried out by rogue scientists? There is no such thing as "spontaneous mutation" into a strain that is resistant to the top eight classes of brand-name antibiotic drugs being sold by Big Pharma today. Such mutations have to be deliberate.

Once again, if you disagree with this assessment, then what you're saying is that NO, it wasn't done deliberately... it happened accidentally! And again, I'm saying that's even scarier! Because that means the antibiotic contamination of our world is now at such an extreme level of overkill that a strain of e.coli in the wild can be saturated with eight different classes of antibiotics to the point where it naturally develops into its own deadly superbug. If that's what people believe, then that's almost a scarier theory than the bioengineering explanation!

A new era has begun: Bioweapons in your food

But in either case -- no matter what you believe -- the simple truth is that the world is now facing a new era of global superbug strains of bacteria that can't be treated with any known pharmaceutical. They can all, of course, be readily killed with colloidal silver, which is exactly why the FDA and world health regulators have viciously attacked colloidal silver companies all these years: They can't have the public getting its hands on natural antibiotics that really work, you see. That would defeat the whole purpose of making everybody sick in the first place.

In fact, these strains of e.coli superbugs can be quite readily treated with a combination of natural full-spectrum antibiotics from plants such as garlic, ginger, onions and medicinal herbs. On top of that, probiotics can help balance the flora of the digestive tract and "crowd out" the deadly e.coli that might happen by. A healthy immune system and well-functioning digestive tract can fight off an e.coli superbug infection, but that's yet another fact the medical community doesn't want you to know. They much prefer you to remain a helpless victim lying in the hospital, waiting to die, with no options available to you. That's "modern medicine" for ya. They cause the problems that they claim to treat, and then they won't even treat you with anything that works in the first place.

Nearly all the deaths now attributable to this e.coli outbreak are easily and readily avoidable. These are deaths of ignorance. But even more, they may also be deaths from a new era of food-based bioweapons unleashed by either a group of mad scientists or an agenda-driven institution that has declared war on the human population.

Additional developments on this e.coli outbreak

• 22 fatalities have so far been reported, with 2,153 people now sickened and possibly facing kidney failure.

• An agricultural ministry in Germany said that even though they now know the source of the outbreak is a German sprout farm, they are still not lifting their warnings for people to avoid eating tomatoes and lettuce. In other words, keep the people afraid!

• "The German variant of E coli, known as O104, is a hybrid of the strains that can cause bloody diarrhoea and kidney damage called 'hemolytic uremic syndrome'." (http://www.independent.ie/world-new...)

• A total of ten European nations have reported outbreaks of this e.coli strain, mostly from people who had visited northern Germany.

• The following story is in German, and it hints that the e.coli outbreak might have been a terrorist attack (http://www.aerztezeitung.de/medizin...). Yeah, a terrorist attack by the drug companies upon innocent people, as usual…


Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/032622_ecoli_bioengineering.html#ixzz1RshQ38ia