After 15 students at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, visited the emergency ward, they tested positive for the same strain of Salmonella. A link was made to raw bean sprouts, and the city decided on Nov. 23, 2006 to warn the public, according to Douglas Powell of the Food Safety Network.

As part of the warning, Dr. Sheela Basrur, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, advised the entire province not to eat raw or cooked bean sprouts, including those from grocery stores, home refrigerators or those served at restaurants.

As the number of confirmed sick people rose into the hundreds, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency on November 25, 2005, finally issued an advisory for mung bean sprouts manufactured by Toronto Sun Wah Trading Inc. — the largest sprout growth facility in the province.

The consumption of raw sprouts has been linked to over 30 outbreaks of foodborne illness throughout North America in the past 15 year affecting tens of thousands of people.

Sprouts, by nature, present a special food safety challenge because the way they are grown.  High moisture and high temperature makes it an ideal environment for bacterial growth. Sprouts are also impossible to wash, making CFIA’s standby warning to consumers to wash their produce extremely difficult to follow.