Our Century, Nando's in-depth look at the 20th century
FDA orders new growing methods to make sprouts safer
Other research, however, estimates that many more people - up to 20,000 - may have been sickened.
FDA senior science adviser Bob Buchanan reiterated the consumer warning Monday but said the government will re-examine its advice in a few months to see if the new growing standards, issued Monday, have made sprouts safer.
"We are not recommending the consumption of raw sprouts" yet, Buchanan said. But if the safety standards are followed, "this will greatly decrease any kind of risk associated with the product."
Growers are not doing anything wrong, Buchanan stressed. Instead, the very conditions that cause seeds to germinate - warm temperatures, with lots of water and nutrients - also spur bacteria growth. Most outbreaks in sprouts have been traced to seeds laden with bacteria that flourish and multiply under the growing conditions necessary for sprouts. (When the same seeds are used for regular crops grown in the hot sun, the germs die off.)
The most critical step: Test the irrigation runoff after watering sprouts.
Test results take about 48 hours, but sprouts typically take four days to grow before harvesting. So if growers test on time, they will know the results before deciding whether to harvest each batch.
The FDA developed the standards in conjunction with food scientists at
The FDA is giving growers 60 days to implement the standards, and then will send out inspectors to ensure they are followed.