As this is being written, there is a food borne illness outbreak in Michigan involving alfalfa sprouts ( click here for articles
); therefore, you may consider this a part of current events! The problem with bean (or alfalfa or other) sprouts is that the bean itself may be damaged or contaminated. Germs can come in contact with a bean either in handling or in processing, and pass themselves on to the sprout. E-coli and Salmonella are the most frequent guest visitors to bean spouts.
Vomiting, diarrhea (including bloody diarrhea), and fever are some of the milder symptoms of Salmonella poisoning. E-coli symptoms include watery diarrhea, severe abdominal pain, bloody diarrhea, and occasionally a fever. Pleasant?
The safest sprouts are cooked ones, but many salad bars (as well as many Chinese dishes) serve or use them raw or partially cooked. The best practice at home is to cook them. When you purchase spouts, make sure they are cold when you pick them up. If they are not, they may have been growing germs while waiting to be purchased. In addition, check the sell-by or use-by date to ensure that you are purchasing fresh spouts.