Aconbury sprouts statement re ecoli in sprouted beans and seeds

E.coli in sprouted seeds 29th June 2011

Dear Customer

As you may be aware, recently there have been two outbreaks of food-poisoning associated with sprouted seeds in France and Germany.

In the German case it has not been established which sprouts were involved (and may never be) but the isolation of the outbreak indicates that local factors were responsible.

In the French case the latest information is that fenugreek, rocket or mustard sprouts may be responsible, none of which we produce at Aconbury. The sprouts were produced on a domestic scale and again the isolation of the outbreak indicates that local factors were responsible.

Unfortunately the Food Standards Agency has reacted to these incidents by issuing consumer guidance that all sprouted seeds should be cooked. This takes no account of the following considerations:

1. What is a sprouted seed, e.g. does it include salad cress, pea shoots, micro-herbs?

2. What about products that cannot reasonably be cooked, e.g. alfalfa sprouts?

3. Why is no distinction made between sprouts that are produced commercially by responsible businesses who take a full range of precautions including a lot of expensive testing to make sure their products are safe, and sprouts produced by consumers or small uncontrolled enterprises?

4. In issuing this unjustified advice have they considered the damage they are doing to not only responsible sprout producers but also seed suppliers, retailers etc.?

5. Contrary to the impression being given, sprouts are an extremely healthy and nutritious food which can be produced safely. The FSA should be encouraging consumers to use them, in their raw state, provided that sufficient precautions are taken.

We understand that the overriding priority of the FSA is to ensure public safety but we sincerely believe, along with everyone else in our industry, that on this occasion they have grossly over-reacted and are causing unnecessary damage to legitimate business and consumer confidence.

We would like to repeat the information we circulated recently:
Harmful organisms found in bean sprouts in most cases have been shown to

have come from the seed. This is why we have every batch of seed we buy tested by an outside laboratory before we release it to production. We also have a programme of regular testing of our finished products and staff, equipment, water and production environment to be sure there is no contamination during production.
Our tests already include generic E. coli as well as the more dangerous strain O157:H7. As soon as the test method for the strain involved in the current outbreak is established we will add it to our test suite if necessary, though as of today the precise source of the contamination has not been established. We are also increasing the frequency of our tests.
In the meantime there is no reason to believe that there is any increased risk from the consumption of our sprouts in the raw state, though there is always the added safeguard available of cooking them first.
We are working closely with our local Environmental Health Service and laboratory to make sure our products continue to be safe and will update you with more information as soon as it becomes available.
Jim Hardy
Aconbury Sprouts Ltd

Vita Coco – The best thing since sliced coconut

Ever since humans worked out how to crack that thick, fibrous husk, coconut water has been quenching the thirst of the sun-drenched tropics. But with the secret finally out, this looks like being the summer we all go crazy for the stuff.

In the 12 weeks up to April, one brand reported a 600 per cent jump in sales on the previous quarter, a leap that reflects the sudden buzz surrounding a drink that has been around for millennia.

In its native lands, the coconut palm is known as ‘the tree of life’ because it has so many uses, from root to spiky crown.

It’s a low-sugar, fast-hydrating drink
It’s a low-sugar, fast-hydrating drink

Most people are familiar with coconut cream – so delicious, so fatty – but what we don’t often see in Britain is coconut water, which comes from younger, green fruit.

In the past couple of years, however, US and European markets have started to cotton on to the benefits of this new so-called wonder drink.

Several brands have appeared on the shelves but the one that’s making its mark is Vita Coco thanks to its popularity with a plethora of celebrities. Madonna (the material girl indeed) has reportedly ploughed $1.5million into the company, along with fellow investors such as Demi Moore and Red Hot Chili Peppers frontman Anthony Kiedis.

Coconut water is packed with naturally occuring electrolytes with 20 times the potassium of a leading sports drink. Eloctrolytes are minerals that are vital for bodily functions such as muscle movement, nerve transmission and brain operation, and coconut water contains five essential examples: potassium, magnesium, calcium, sodium and phosphorous.

Potassium is one of the most important electrolytes there is. One of its important is to help maintain water balance – a good level of potassium helps you to maintain water pressure within a cell and water pressure within the blood. So, as it can help draw water into cells and into the blood, it enables the body to rehydrate quickly.’

A 330ml serving of pure coconut water contains more potassium than two bananas. This hydrating aspect explains why coconut water is gaining popularity as an alternative to sports drinks such as Lucozade.

A study of post-exercise rehydration carried out by the Universiti Sains Malaysia compared coconut water, sports drinks and normal water. It found coconut water was ‘significantly sweeter, caused less nausea, fullness and no stomach upset’, concluding that it was the best option for thirsty athletes. Maybe it won’t be too ambitious to picture coconut water being handed out on Olympic racetracks in the very near future!

You eat 75% of your chewing gum. What’s in it?

Did you know that when you finish with your chewing gum it is one 1/4 of the size you started with?

That means you eat 75% of it… but what are you eating?

The same stuff that gets made into the tyres on your car: synthetic polymers. A lot of gum uses unnatural ingredients for its base.

Peppersmith doesn’t. This intriguing little company have taken gum back to before the dirty days of putting plastic in your food. Instead, they use chicle, a natural and sustainable rainforest gum, which all gum used to be made from.

A chewing gum with no artificial ingredients
A chewing gum with no artificial ingredients

They also use high quality Black Mitcham Peppermint grown in Hampshire, and wood sugar taken from beech trees. There’s no artificial flavours, colours, preservatives or anything, and especially not aspartame. (The gum is also vegetarian, gluten-free, and good for diabetics and it’s made in a nut-free environment.)

The result? The dentists like it because wood sugar (xylitol) actively fights plaque and the public love it because of the quality of the peppermint.

Plus, each box comes with these dainty little papers so that you can wrap your chewing gum up once you’ve finished with it, leaving you to conscientiously dispose of the other 25%.

Fancy something a little different? Sunita’s got it

 I’ve always liked pâté, but I’m not sure anyone else does.

Perhaps because pâté is the French for paste and what most people see when they look at the pink square block is just compacted meat? Perhaps they’d be more interested if it was vegetarian?

Me, I’m different.

I don’t mind how it comes, that’s why I still love the stuff when it’s made from olives, particularly black olives. And now that I’m about to taste artichoke pâté I’m just as excited… Yup, it’s delicious, fresh, verdant and creamy.

So, it’s obviously not the meat which makes pâté so special to me. That’s not why I’m keen on Sunita’s new range of spreads, including a Sundried Tomato pâté and Creamed Basil. But why is it?

Sunita - find your free-spirit
Sunita - find your free-spirit

Maybe it’s because it reminds me of being in a delicatessen  – as a look at Sunita’s full range confirm this – they’re now selling olives in lunch box size tubs as well as in jars just to increase the experience.

For me, delicatessens are the best place on the high street, next to an independent book store. And that’s it! I now realise my special love for pâté must be because I’m an undercover bohemian! I’m not sure how pâté helps me to be a free-spirit, but I can sure that it goes hand in hand with eating something from Sunita.

Top 12 most worrying foods – avoid these if you want to stay trim…

You know the trouble with trying to lose weight is that you can never count all the calories you’ve really had.

But Harvard Uni have worked out that, when it comes to staying trim, it’s your food lifestyle, not counting calories, which has a lasting effect. The average adult puts on a pound per year in their middle years without even trying! So if you want to find out which foods could help prevent that, read on.

The findings may shock you. For example, did you know that people who tend to eat potatoes everyday are likely to put on weight, but people who have a daily helping of nuts aren’t?

Does that seem surprising? Nuts have lots more fat in them than potatoes do and are often shunned by dieters. However, a lifestyle which includes a handful of nuts a day has been shown to be more helpful even than regular helpings of fruit. The truth is that people with the nut habit tend to lose more weight.

The Harvard study involved 120,000 people over 20 years. Among the many findings what it shows us most of all is that a few lifestyle changes can make a lot of difference.

Here’s some of Harvard’s ranking of food, including the good, the bad and the ugly…

The good news is that a diet which includes daily vegetables, wholegrains, fruits and nuts is going to contribute to a diet that helps you keep your weight low. This is what we would expect, however, the best weight reducer of all is yoghurt! Even though it is a dairy product, over two decades, youghurt was found to be very beneficial for reducing your weight.

But when it comes to the top 12 most worrying foods – there are a few more surprises.

12. Butter is seen as a bad guy (but surprisingly cheese is fairly neutral).
11. Fruit juice (not the rubbish stuff, but the 100% pure juices) was found to be just slightly worse than butter! Is it the sugar in the fructose?
10. Fried foods are worse still (though Harvard found that, if it’s normally only eaten at restaurants, it’s not as bad as a daily helping of butter).
9. Refined grains (white rice, white pasta, white bread, as opposed to the wholemeal variety) is actually counted as a worse choice than having home cooked fried food each day – probably because it doesn’t fill you up for very long.
8. Sweets, biscuits, desserts: the daily sweet tooth is obviously bad news.
7. But in this scale… Potatoes are worse! While low fat and nutritious it seems that people put too much on their plate (but how many people do you know who eat potatoes everyday?)
6. Trans fats are a notorious villain – if you’re eating deep fat fried foods regularly then you’re in danger.
5. Processed meats are worse however – think hot dogs and cheap ham, in fact cheap meat products generally – a daily diet of this stuff is bad news for losing weight.
4. However, red meat is worse still, even if it’s unprocessed. A daily helping leads to weight gain.
3. Drinking sugary drinks will definitely add to the pounds if you drink them everyday (I can think of many people who do).
2. Crisps are addictive (some people have several bags in one day), but the study says your weight is going to increase.
1. Chips – no surprises here. Eating these everyday will make you put on half a stone in ten years all by themselves.

Bee colonies are still dying. But why?

Honeybee populations are down again!

What’s happening?

UK bee stocks have dropped by 13%. Experts are puzzled (see Guardian article).

There is a campaign growing which places the blames the use of certain pesticides. When the ‘BeeLovely‘ site goes live, please consider adding your signature to petition the government about this issue.


Red wine in a pill – healthy benefits coming your way soon.

This could be good news: Scientists have managed to synthesize the secret ingredient that makes red wine so healthy.

A secret fountain of youth?
Could resveratrol be a secret fountain of youth?

Resveratrol, found in red wine and colourful berries, is thought to be a key to reversing the aging process, tackling obesity and reducing the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes. However, it is very difficult to harvest enough for its beneficial properties.

Nonetheless, researchers from New York are very excited because they have found a way around the problem by making similar beneficial compounds from molecules comparable to resveratrol.

“It’s like a recipe book for the whole resveratrol family,” says Scott Snyder, the team leader, “We’ve opened up a whole casket of nature’s goodies.”

Source: New Scientist

Organic beef is cheaper (sometimes)

Do you ever feel guilty when you walk through the supermarket and pretend not to see the organic meat – because it’s too expensive?

The truth is that, in the supermarkets Sainsburys and Tescos, organic beef is cheaper than its prime cut equivalent and, in two supermarkets surveyed, organic lamb was found to be cheaper too.

Sometimes the price difference was up to 30% less. This is according to a survey by Craig Producers earlier this year. It stands in contrast to the perception that ‘organic = expensive’.

Organic does not always mean more expensive
Organic does not always mean more expensive

Also, organic meat remains beneficial to the animals, the environment and the customer, so it’s real vlaue for money.

At GoodnessDirect you can purchase not only organic beef and lamb but poultry, pork, burgers, bacon and bangers, all from Graig Farm Organics livestock reared in Wales and the Border Counties.

Time to enjoy organic choice cuts.

Pasta is the world’s favourite food, but can it save the world?

We Brits eat a lot of pasta, but not as much as the Tunisians or Venezuelans and, of course, the Italians. This worldwide appeal explains why pasta has been found to be the world’s most favourite food.

However, other foods are not far behind, according to an Oxfam survey. The top 10 of favourite foods worldwide were…

  1.  Pasta
  2.  Rice
  3.  Pizza
  4.  Chicken
  5.  Meat
  6.  Vegetables
  7.  Steak
  8.  Chinese
  9.  Lasagna
  10.  Fish

Overall, it looks like Italy has a lot to answer for. And, as you can see from the links, at GoodnessDirect we’re keen to satisfy people’s tastes.

But the real reason for the survey is to highlight the rising concern over worldwide food prices. Every night, almost 1/6th of people in the world go to bed hungry.

This week the G20 meet in Paris to discuss rising food costs. Oxfam predicts food prices will double by 2030. The truth is, wherever we are in the world, we’re going to be affected. Let’s pray the politicians ‘use their noodles’ and find a lasting solution.

Olive oil almost halves your chance of having a stroke

If you’re older the bad news is you’re more likely to have a stroke (although roughly a quarter of strokes happen to people under 65).

An oil that keeps your body working
An oil that keeps your body working

But you can halve your chances with olive oil. Such are the indications from a study of over 7000 people.

No one is exactly sure why olive oil helps – it may be that the average diet of olive oil users is healthier over all, but a risk reduction of 41% is not to be sneezed at. Strokes are the biggest cause of adult disability in the UK.

What is known is that olive oil reduces blood pressure and contains compounds which are good for dealing with  inflammation which is linked to the development of heart disease and arthritis.