An outbreak that occurred in Australia in 2005 – 2006 due to consumption of alfalfa sprouts contaminated with Salmonella Oranienburg affected 141 individuals, and cost an estimated $1.19 million to the Australian community. An outbreak of Escherichia coli O104:H4 linked to consumption of fenugreek sprouts occurred largely in Germany in 2011, and affected approximately 4,000 individuals. Among them, 908 developed haemorrhagic uraemic syndrome, and 50 died of the infection. These examples demonstrate that seed sprouts contaminated with pathogenic microorganisms present an unacceptable food safety risk to consumers.

This paper describes a through-chain risk analysis that informed the development of an Australian food safety standard for the production and processing of seed sprouts. It expands an extended abstract published in 2014 in the European Journal of Nutrition & Food Safety by taking into consideration seed sprout associated outbreaks between 1988 and 2018, and risk mitigation measures implemented by Australian State and Territory food safety authorities to reduce food safety risks imposed by seed sprouts.

The purpose of this paper is to inform government agencies and the fresh produce industry involved in managing seed sprout safety of the science behind the risk mitigation measures developed to minimise food safety risk associated with seed sprouts.

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