Starting today, Kroger, one of the biggest supermarket chains in the country, is no longer selling alfalfa and bean sprouts in any of its stores.
The decision to yank the popular salad ingredient from shelves was announced Friday. Kroger's vice president of food safety told the Wall Street Journal that the decision was motivated by food safety concerns. Sprouts have been tied to numerous large-scale outbreaks of food poisoning in the past few years, he explained, and it is difficult to ensure the safety of any given batch of sprouts.
The move makes Kroger the second major chain to stop selling sprouts in the U.S.; the first was Walmart, which instituted the policy in 2011 soon after a batch of alfafa sprouts sold in its stores sickened 22 people and were subject to an urgent recall.
Sprouts are considered one of the foods most likely to harbor foodborne pathogens like E. coli and salmonella. The growing process required to sprout alfalfa seeds or beans is very conducive to the growth of such bacteria. And the fact that most people eat sprouts raw, thereby preventing them from killing the bacteria with heat, only makes sprouts riskier.