In Bill Marler’s blog below, he quotes Bill Bagby of Tiny Greens, who sickened scores of people for 4 months with his contaminated sprouts.
Mr. Bagby says,
"Sprouts are kind of a magical thing," says Bagby, owner of Tiny Greens, a sprout farm in Urbana, Ill. "In terms of vitamins they’re just off the charts compared to normal produce."
If this is magic, it is Black Magic of the worst kind. It is not really magic though…its make-believe. And the motive is as always… money. I wonder if Mr. Bagby believes his own statements about the health benefits vs. risk of sprouts? Does he feel eating raw sprouts is worth the risk of losing one’s kidneys?
This is the same ploy we hear from the raw milk industry. If Mr. Bagby was doing all he could to make a safe product, I might have some sympathy for him, but he operated an unsafe and unsanitary operation according to FDA. There is no excuse for the use of unsafe compost.
No responsible grower of any produce item I have ever met would do such a thing.
Mr. Bagby continues to mislead the public, he gives no evidence that his products are safer today than they were yesterday; having an "audit" once a year is not a food safety program. The changes he should have made were likely obvious and likely were put off, that is until he sickened consumers.
FDA’s public stand on sprouts is saddening. These officials know full well that this commodity is too risky to consume, they do not eat them, themselves. Yet, they avoid confronting the issues. After the terrible tragedy in Europe, it is now time for a shot across the bow to the entire sprout industry. We need FDA to say "get rid of the unsafe operations in your industry, make your product safely or we will put you out of business" and not, "it’s an individual decision ". When unsafe cars or tires kill people, we don’t hear Washington folks saying "buying these unsafe cars and tires is an individual decision". Its not a matter of "tastes good", or "good for you", these products are too difficult to make safely, even under the best of conditions, and they pose a continuing public health threat.
No respectable, conscientious retailer should ever offer sprouts for sale. A firm like Jimmy Johns seems to me, totally reckless. Even after several illnesses from their sandwiches, they continue to offer sprouts. So I must conclude it’s a popular item and thus the firm is willing to take the risk.
Tiny Greens constituted a public health hazard for at least 4 months when it caused the last outbreak and so my feeling is the operator cannot be relied on in the future. Does he expect his auditor to stop him the next time he takes a short cut with food safety? The next time it could be devastating, knowing what we know now about the ability of the most severe strains of E. coli to contaminate these products.
I am sure FDA is hoping that the sprout industry will "kill itself off", which I believe will eventually happen, but how many consumers will have to die before our public health folks will tell the American public the plain truth, "raw sprouts are too dangerous to eat".
Lets stop all the make-believe.
Hemorrhaging to death is not worth the nutritional benefits of anything…period.
The Chicago Tribune asks, What should Consumers Do About Sprouts?
The answer is easy, "don;t eat them".
The Chicago Tribune tried to portray Mr. Bagby and company in a balanced way, but I do not think he deserves a favorable spotlight for his "magical" views.