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Blog Release – Marler Clark Pledges $10,000 to International Sprout Growers Association for Safe Seed Production, Asks Jimmy John’s to Do the Same

Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, announced today that it is pledging $10,000 to the International Sprout Growers Association (ISGA) to assist in the development of a safer method for the production of sprouts. The contribution comes on the heels of a nationwide Salmonella outbreak caused by contaminated sprouts that has sickened almost 100 people.

“We are pledging this money to ISGA to apply as it sees fit with the ultimate goal being the development of a more effective sanitation measure in the production of sprouts,” said Marler Clark Managing Partner Bill Marler. “We recognize that sprout seeds are often the problem, but the seed industry has proven itself incapable of ensuring the safety of its products. Therefore the question of safety must fall to the sprout growers themselves, and this pledge is to help them in some small way achieve better safety.”

The sprout industry has recently come under fire for its foodborne illness record. Since 1990 sprouts have been attributed to at least 39 E. coli and Salmonella outbreaks. According to the Centers for Disease Control and prevention (CDC) thus far at least 94 people have become ill with Salmonella in the current outbreak and at least 22 of them have been hospitalized.

“With 39 sprout outbreaks in the last two decades and Jimmy John’s having been involved in three of those since 2008, the company is no longer an innocent bystander,” said Marler. “Jimmy John’s should consider matching our $10,000 pledge as an investment in the safety of its customers.”

  • Carl Custer

    This is no longer “Rocket Science”
    You could start them off with a lit review:
    This suggests a “club” might be appropriate”
    Thomas, J. L., M. S. Palumbo, J. A. Farrar, T. B. Farver, and D. O. Cliver. 2003. Industry practices and compliance with U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines among California sprout firms. J. Food Prot. 66:1253–1259.
    “These results indicate that producers of alfalfa sprouts are generally achieving the FDA recommended calcium hypochlorite level of 20,000 mg/liter (ppm), whereas mung bean sprout producers are not.”

  • Gabrielle Meunier

    Seems to me that the FDA should be taking a serious look at all safe procedures for growing/processing/packaging of all categories of Sprouts and then make sure that they have this proven safe protocol correct to pass along and require the growers/sellers of sprouts to comply or not to sell until in compliance (if they aren’t currently in compliance — why are they being allowed to sell?). Doesn’t make sense why this is not currently happening. Sprouts have been a pathogen issue for so many years . . . Good job Bill for stepping in to improve the situation.

  • Art Davis

    Check with your buddy Mansour Samadpour at IEH. The Brassica Sprout Group, California Sprouts, and Caudill Seed, within the last year cooperatively supported a research project at IEH for a cost roughly 4X your donation (Not to belittle the donation at all, it is admirable in intent but won’t on its own cover the cost of much serious research and ISGA has proven unable to raise significant research funding over the last ten years. Perhaps your donation would be more effective as a matching fund challenge). The results of the study are in the final stages of revision for presentation to the appropriate audience. One clear fact is that current recommended seed treatments cannot on their own guarantee sprout safety. The industry must adopt 100% testing of spent irrigation water as the control point for pathogen detection in sprouts.

  • The sprout industry has recently come under fire for its foodborne illness record. Since 1990 sprouts have been attributed to at least 39 E. coli and Salmonella outbreaks. According to the Centers for Disease Control and prevention (CDC) thus far at least 94 people have become ill with Salmonella in the current outbreak and at least 22 of them have been hospitalized.