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The Kroger Co. will no longer sell sprouts effective Monday, asserting they carry a potential food safety risk.
“After a thorough, science-based review, we have decided to voluntarily discontinue selling fresh sprouts,” said Payton Pruett, Kroger’s VP of food safety. “Testing and sanitizing by the growers and safe food handling by the consumer are the critical steps to protect against food-borne illness. Sprouts present a unique challenge because pathogens may reside inside of the seeds where they cannot be reached by the currently available processing interventions. Out of an abundance of caution, the Kroger family of stores will no longer sell fresh sprouts or procure other foods that are produced on the same equipment as sprouts.”
Pruett said the company is open to revisiting this policy when new technologies and practices show that farmers can consistently produce sprout seeds that do not internalize pathogens, and when sprout processing environments can be enhanced for safety and cleanliness.
Deliveries of sprouts into Kroger distribution centers and stores will be discontinued on Oct. 22.
Cincinnati-based Kroger operates 2,425 supermarkets and multidepartment stores in 31 states under two dozen local banner names including Kroger, City Market, Dillons, Jay C, Food 4 Less, Fred Meyer, Fry’s, King Soopers, QFC, Ralphs and Smith’s.