Hot Solution To Bean Sprout Safety
of Article: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090401200435.htm
(Apr. 2, 2009)
— Bacterial infection of mung bean seeds can cause outbreaks of food
poisoning when the sprouts are eaten. Now research by a microbiologist from
Nottingham University, UK has shown ways of disinfecting the bean seeds
using natural methods and which do not prevent the beans from sprouting.
"Bean sprouts are
regarded as a healthy food, but they are often eaten raw in salads",
said Apinya Vanichpun, presenting her findings at the Society for General
Microbiology meeting in Harrogate April 2, "If the bean seeds are
contaminated with pathogenic bacteria there can be disease outbreaks when
the sprouts are eaten".
"The challenge is to
find a means of disinfecting the seeds that kills bacteria but that still
allows the seeds to germinate to produce sprouts," she continued.
"Consumers who want organic, "natural" foods do not want
chemicals used to disinfect them and so this must be taken into account
Her experiments used
Listeria monocytogenes bacteria, which causes listeriosis, a serious food
borne disease which can lead to meningitis in people with a reduced immune
system and abortion in pregnancy. Applying hot and chilled water in turn to
the mung bean seeds killed significant numbers of the bacteria. However it
had the disadvantage that it reduced the germination level of the seeds so
producing fewer sprouts.
An equal mix of lime
juice and vinegar was as effective in reducing bacterial numbers as a
mixture containing sodium hypochlorite, the sterilizing chemical used in
babies' bottles, and lactic acid; however this was still not as good as the
temperature treatments. The lime and vinegar mix also had the problem that
it affected the germination rate of the seeds more than did the sodium
hypochlorite solution (only 78% sprouted with lime and vinegar against 98%
with sodium hypochlorite),.
Hot water treatment seems
to be a good option to use for seed disinfection as it would be a suitable
choice for production systems that required the use of only natural
products for organic fresh produce.
Adapted from materials provided by Society for
General Microbiology, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.