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Abstract

 There has been an increasing trend in consumption of sprouts worldwide due to their widespread availability and high nutrient content. However, microbial contamination of sprouts readily occurs due to the presence of pathogenic bacteria in seeds; and the germination and sprouting process provide optimal conditions for bacterial growth. In recent years, there has been a rise in the number of outbreaks associated with sprouts. These outbreaks occurred mainly in the US, Canada, UK, as well as Europe. More recently in 2011, there were 4 sprout-related outbreaks, with the Escherichia coli O104:H4 outbreak in Germany causing around 50 deaths and 4000 illnesses reported. On top of pathogenic E. coli, Salmonella spp. are often associated with sprout-related foodborne disease outbreaks. The contamination of sprouts has become a worldwide food safety concern. Hence, this review paper covers the outbreaks associated with sprouts, prevalence and characteristics of pathogens contaminating sprouts, their survival and growth, and the source of these pathogens. Physical, biological, and chemical interventions utilized to minimize microbial risks in sprouts are also discussed.