Comparing the health risks of alfalfa sprouts and wheatgrass via detecting the presences of escherichia coli in their juices
Keywords:wheatgrass, microgreens, sprouts, foodborne illness, E. coli, root system, contamination
Background: Past studies have analyzed the health risks associated with alfalfa sprout production and developed standard procedures to reduce foodborne illnesses. There have been no studies related to microgreen outbreaks, specifically wheatgrass. Wheatgrass has become a growing culinary trend and the potential health risks associated need to be evaluated. Alfalfa sprouts and wheatgrass both share the same initial growth production – pre-soak and germination. The only difference is the harvesting period. This paper evaluated the risks associated with alfalfa sprout production and compared it with wheatgrass production by contaminating both alfalfa sprouts and wheatgrass with E. coli The presences of E. coli in the plant’s juices were evaluated and compared. Method: Alfalfa sprouts and wheatgrass were grown in similar conditions, in hydroponic condition, with an additional wheatgrass in soil. The plants were grown and harvested according to its respective pre-soaking and harvesting period, as specified by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. The plants were inoculated with Escherichia coli during the germination period, and then juiced to examine the presences of E. coli within its internal structure. The Hygiena systemSURE II luminometer was used to detect the presences of E. coli via the MicroSnap™ Enrichment and E. coli detection swabs. Results: The result showed that E. coli was present in both wheatgrass and alfalfa sprouts juice. The root systems of the food products were independent of each other. The types of growth medium used for wheatgrass were also independent of each other. Conclusion: The study found that growing microgreens should be treated similarly to sprout productions. Food facilities with wheatgrass production need to be aware of safe handling, production, and storage of wheatgrass to prevent foodborne illnesses.
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