UK: Health snack seeds withdrawn from sale after report into salmonella and E. coli

Source of Article:  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/foodanddrinkadvice/4837000/Health-snack-seeds-withdrawn-from-sale-after-report-into-salmonella-and-E.coli.html

 

Tens of thousands of packets of edible seeds were withdrawn from supermarkets and health food shops after a survey found “unacceptable” levels of salmonella and E. coli.

 

By Alastair Jamieson
Last Updated: 8:39AM GMT 26 Feb 2009

 

The ready-to-eat seeds, such as sesame and sunflower, were removed from shelves last year in one of the biggest product recalls for a decade Photo: GETTY

The ready-to-eat seeds, such as sesame and sunflower, were removed from shelves last year in one of the biggest product recalls for a decade.

One in 50 packs of the popular health snack was found to be contaminated with dangerous levels of the diseases, which can lead to serious illness for many and death for the vulnerable.

The study was carried out by the Health Protection Agency in conjunction with local authority group Lacors after outbreaks of salmonella linked to seeds in other countries over recent years, according to a report in The Independent.

The report called on food manufacturers and retailers to improve hygiene during harvesting and drying of seeds.

Environmental health officers from 317 local authorities collected 3,735 packets of ready-to-eat seeds from 3,390 supermarkets, health food shops, convenience stores and market stalls between October 2007 and March 2008.

Twenty-three samples – 0.6 per cent – were contaminated with salmonella and E. coli was detected at unsatisfactory levels in 55 samples, or 1.5 per cent, putting the proportion of dangerous food-borne disease at 2.1 per cent of the total.

Melon seeds had the highest proportion of salmonella – 8.5 per cent – but the bug was also found in sesame, linseed, sunflower, alfalfa and mixed seeds. E. coli was found in melon, pumpkin, sesame, hemp, poppy, linseed, sunflower and mixed seeds.

It is thought such cases of contamination come when seeds are left outside to dry in the sun in developing countries or because of poor hand-washing.

As a result of the study, 10 retailers and wholesalers withdrew packets of seeds at the end of 2007 and the beginning of 2008.

 

 

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