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Many types of sprouts are edible and grow quickly
Georgia Consumer
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Question: What are sprouts? My husband likes to use them on his salads.

Answer: Sprouts are the germinating form of seeds and beans. They require no soil, only water and cool temperatures. They emerge in two to seven days, depending on the type of seed or bean. In addition to raw alfalfa sprouts, other varieties include clover, sunflower, broccoli, mustard, radish, garlic, dill, and pumpkin, as well as various beans, such as mung, kidney, pinto, navy and soy, and wheat berries.

Q: I have seen bottled water marked for use in preparing infant formula. What does this mean?

A: Some water companies wish to make available bottled waters which are marketed for infants and for use in mixing with infant formula. When manufacturers label their water as intended for infants, the water must meet the same standards established for tap water by the Environmental Protection Agency. The label must also indicate that the bottled water is not sterile. As with tap water, consumers should boil bottled water one minute before mixing with infant formula.

Water that is sterilized by the manufacturer and intended for use with infants must meet certain strict FDA standards. Most manufacturers of infant formula usually do not specify the source of water other than to indicate that the water should be safe to drink. In most situations, it is safe to mix formula using ordinary cold tap water that is brought to a boil and boiled for one minute or as directed on the label of the infant formula.

Q: I received a gift of a smoked pheasant from a mail order company. It was packed in a box with no dry ice or frozen gel packs. It wasn’t cold even though the label said "keep refrigerated." Is it safe to eat?

A: Poultry and hams are smoked for flavor, not preservation. If a product is labeled "keep refrigerated," that’s a warning that it must be kept cold to be safe. The only exceptions are country hams and dry sausages which are safe at room temperature. Bacteria doesn’t grow in them because of the high salt content and dryness. You should request a refund from the mail order company.

Q: What should I do to insure that my dried jerky is safe to eat?

A: Before drying, the meat should first be heated to 160 degrees F to destroy all bacteria present. During the drying process dehydrators or low temperature ovens will evaporate the moisture first which absorbs most of the heat. The meat itself does not begin to rise in temperature until most of the moisture has evaporated. At this stage, the bacteria have become much more heat resistant and are more likely to survive. If these surviving bacteria are pathogenic, they can cause food borne illness to those consuming the jerky.

Q: Can I collect some live snails in Spain this summer and bring them back home with me? I’m a kindergarten teacher and I will be using them in my classroom this fall.

A: No live snails may be brought into the United States without a permit from U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. To obtain a list of banned or prohibited foods, plants, animals, birds or insects contact your local APHIS office.

Consumer alert/recall

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with Waxcessories Inc., of Dracut, Mass., announces a voluntary recall of about 830,000 electric simmer pots. Consumers should stop using the simmer pots immediately and contact Waxcessories for instructions on receiving a free replacement product. The simmer pots have wire connections that can become loose, posing a risk of fire and electric shock to consumers.

If you have questions or problems with services or products regulated by the Georgia Department of Agriculture you may write the Office of Public Affairs, 19 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Room 226, Atlanta, GA 30334 or call 800-282-5852. This column appears Sundays.