Food safety tips for sprouts

Sprouts are a low-calorie, healthy ingredient used in many meals.

There are several types of sprouts:

  • alfalfa
  • mung bean
  • onion
  • radish
  • mustard
  • broccoli

While sprouts are a healthy food option, they can sometimes be contaminated with harmful bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella which can lead to food poisoning.

Avoid eating raw or undercooked sprouts and follow the other food safety tips on this page to help protect yourself and your family from food poisoning.

On this page:

Sprouts and food poisoning

Sprouts can come into contact with harmful bacteria:

  • in the farm environment
  • during packaging
  • during storage
  • during transportation
  • during preparation/cooking through cross-contamination


Do not

  • Don't eat raw or undercooked sprouts.


  • Only buy sprouts that are refrigerated.
  • Select crisp-looking sprouts. Avoid sprouts that look dark or smell musty.
  • If you are buying sprouts from a bulk display, use tongs, gloves, or place a bag over your hand to put sprouts into a plastic bag.
  • Keep sprouts separate from raw meat, poultry, and seafood in the grocery cart to avoid cross-contamination.


  • Refrigerate sprouts as soon as you get home.
  • Sprouts that are not prepackaged should be consumed within a few days.
  • Throw away sprouts that are past their "best before" date.
  • Throw away sprouts that have lost their crispness, look dark, or smell musty.


Washing your hands and following proper cleaning techniques can help you avoid cross-contamination and prevent the spread of food poisoning.

  • Use warm water and soap to thoroughly wash all utensils, countertops, and cutting boards before and after handling sprouts. 


Wash your hands thoroughly with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds, before and after handling sprouts.

  • Rinse sprouts in cool, running water before cooking them.
  • Ensure sprouts are thoroughly cooked before eating them.

Reduce your risk

People in the following at-risk groups should take extra precautions when eating sprouts because they are at greater risk of food poisoning:

In addition to following the safety tips on this page, here are a few extra precautions you should take to protect your health:

  • Check the food label's ingredients list for sprouts. Do not eat any sprouts unless you're sure they've been thoroughly cooked.
  • When eating out, request that raw sprouts not be added to your meal or that any sprouts in your dish be thoroughly cooked.

What the Government of Canada does to protect you

The Government of Canada is committed to food safety.

Health Canada establishes regulations and standards relating to the safety and nutritional quality of foods sold in Canada. Through inspection and enforcement activities, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency verifies that food sold in Canada meets Health Canada's requirements.

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