I have worked in the human services field since 1996, as a direct care staff and an instructor to children and adults with disabilities.
Are Raw Mung Bean Sprouts Safe?
The quick answer is no! Many raw bean vegetables are not safe for pregnant women, the elderly, and children. Once cooked at a high temperature, Mung bean sprouts are safe.
Your baby is new to the world. She is vulnerable and sensitive to many things including certain foods. She's started being able to eat mashed-up solid foods, and naturally, you are concerned about what is safe for her to eat.
Certainly some foods are tasty to you, and you might wonder if baby can eat them too. It would be nice to share some yummy bean sprouts with her.
But you wonder if it's safe to do so.
Let's find out.
Are Mung Bean Sprouts Safe?
Mung Bean sprouts are fairly common in Chinese cooking, are good for stir-fry and for salads and sandwiches. They are crisp with a nutty flavor.
They are a healthy food packed with nutrients like B vitamins and vitamins C and K and also contain iron. They are low-calorie and a good source of fiber.
However, for the sprouts themselves to develop, they need a warm and humid environment; exactly the kind of environment conducive to the growth of dangerous bacteria.
So, raw sprouts of all kinds tend to carry bacteria. This is true of Mung bean sprouts, radish sprouts, alfalfa sprouts and clover sprouts.
Yearly, the FDA reports poisoning from bean sprouts, most commonly Salmonella poisoning. Bean sprouts often carry Salmonella and E. Coli bacteria. But they can also contain other dangerous bacteria too, like baccillus, staphylococcus aurerus and listeria.
For this reason, the FDA advises that raw bean sprouts are dangerous for those with impaired immune systems, pregnant women, the aged and babies and very young children. No matter who is eating the sprouts, it is important to wash them thoroughly and cook them until steaming hot all the way through. Those sprouts labelled "ready to eat" are safe, but all other sprouts should be cleaned and cooked and entirely avoided by the at-risk groups mentioned. The only way to really kill dangerous bacteria in sprouts is to cook them.
Bean Sprout Take-Away
So, bean sprouts, including Mung bean sprouts, are more likely to carry dangerous bacteria because of the warm and humid conditions required for their growth. For this reason, vulnerable populations like pregnant women, the elderly, very young children and infants should avoid raw bean sprouts.
For those not vulnerable to bacteria in bean sprouts, sprouts they eat should still be washed thoroughly and cooked well. Cooking the sprouts is the only way to be certain that the bacteria has been killed.
So, raw Mung bean sprouts are not safe for your baby to eat. But I'm sure there are other tasty foods that your baby will find quite scrumptious!
How about these for starters? (at 4 months to 6 months)
- Pureed sweet potatoes
- Pureed squash
- Pureed banana
- Pureed apples
- Pureed peaches
- Pureed pears
At 6 months to 8 months:
- Pureed tofu
- Pureed meat: Chicken, pork, beef
- Some unsweetened yogurt
- Pureed or strained fruits
- Pureed or strained vegetables like avocado or well-cooked carrots
- Pureed beans like black beans, chickpeas, black-eyed peas, lentils or kidney beans
At 8 to 10 months
- Cottage cheese
- Pieces of banana or egg
- Mashed beans
10 months to a year
- Diced or sliced fruits and vegetables
- Macaroni and cheese
So, there you have it. No raw Mung bean sprouts for baby but there are many delicious and healthy alternatives.
Busch, S. What Are the Benefits of Mung Bean Sprouts? Retrieved on 2014, February 15 from SFGate.
Sprouts: What You Should Know. Retrieved on 2014, February 15 from FoodSafety.gov
Sprouted Seeds Safety Advice. Retrieved on 2014m February 15 from NHS Choices.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.