CINCINNATI – Citing a food safety risk, the Kroger Co. will no longer sell sprouts at any of its stores. Deliveries of sprouts into Kroger’s distribution system will end Oct. 22.

“After a thorough, science-based review, we have decided to voluntarily discontinue selling fresh sprouts,” said Payton Pruett, Kroger's vice-president 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.”

Mr. Pruett said the company is open to revising the policy when new technologies and practices show farmers consistently may produce sprout seeds that do not internalize pathogens.