Bean sprouts are a common ingredient across the world. They are particularly common in Eastern Asian cuisine, made from sprouting beans.
The typical bean sprout is made from the greenish-capped mung beans. Other common bean sprouts are the usually yellow, larger-grained soy sprouts. It typically takes one week for them to be completely grown. The sprouted beans are more nutritious than the original beans and they require much less cooking time and, therefore, less energy.
Soy sprouts are used in most countries in East and Southeast Asia.
Names in Asia
- Chinese – Mandarin – pinyin: 豆芽 (dòuyá)
- Chinese – Cantonese - Jyutping: daai6 dau2 ngaa4 coi3, ngan6 ngaa4 coi3; wong4 dau2 nga4; dau2 ngaa4; ngaa4 coi3
- Chinese – Mandarin – Wade–Giles: touya, huangtouya, huang tou ya or huang tou-ya*
- Chinese - Taiwanese / Ho-lo / Hokkien: tāu-gê (豆芽), tāu-tshài (豆菜)
- Filipino: toge, utaw, tamyaw
- Indonesian and Malay: toge, tauge (taugé) (of Chinese origin) or kecambah
- Japanese: moyashi (もやし)
- Khmer / Cambodian: sondek bondos
- Korean: kongnamul or kong namul or k’ong namul *
- Thai: ถั่วงอก (thua-ngok)
- Vietnamese: giá or giá đỗ
- Burmese: Pirl Pin Pouk (ပဲပင္ေပါက္)
Bean sprouts can be microwaved, or stir fried. They may also be used as an ingredient, e.g., for spring rolls before applying heat.
In Chinese cuisine, common dishes that may use bean sprouts, known as Dòu Yá ("豆芽"), are fried rice, spring rolls, egg drop soup, and hot and sour soup. They are used in Vietnamese cuisine as well.
In Korean cuisine, Soy bean sprouts 'Kongnamul' (콩나물) are more commonly used than Mung bean sprouts 'Sukjunamul' (숙주나물). And it is one of the staple ingredients for Namul and key ingredients for many Korean soups including Yukgaejang, and stir-fries such as japchae.
In Japanese cuisine moyashi (もやし) refers to, in a strict sense, the mung sprout. The soy sprouts are known as mame-moyashi (豆萌やし,糵). Bean sprouts are a common ingredient in many Japanese dishes such as stir fries and soups.
They are used in Thai cuisine, usually eaten in soups and stir-fried dishes. In Phad Thai they are often added in to the pan for one quick stir before serving and in soups such as Nam ngiao they are sprinkled on top of the dish.
Commercially grown sprouts have been associated with multiple outbreaks of harmful bacteria, including salmonella and toxic forms of Escherichia coli. Such infections, which are so frequent in the United States that investigators call them "sproutbreaks", may be a result of contaminated seeds or of unhygienic production with high microbial counts. Sprout seeds can become contaminated in the fields where they are grown, and sanitizing steps may be unable to kill bacteria hidden in damaged seeds. A single surviving bacterium in a kilogram of seed can be enough to contaminate a whole batch of sprouts, according to the FDA.
To minimize the impact of the incidents and maintain public health, both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Health Canada issued industry guidance on the safe manufacturing of edible sprouts and public education on their safe consumption. There are also publications for hobby farmers on safely growing and consuming sprouts at home. The recommendations include development and implementation of good agricultural practices and good manufacturing practices in the production and handling of seeds and sprouts, seed disinfection treatments, and microbial testing before the product enters the food supply.
In June 2011, contaminated bean sprouts in Germany were identified as the source of the 2011 E. coli O104:H4 outbreak. In addition to Germany, where 3,785 cases and 45 deaths had been reported by the end of the outbreak, a handful of cases were reported in several countries including Switzerland, Poland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, the UK, Canada and the USA. Virtually all affected people had been in Germany shortly before becoming ill.
Some legumes, including sprouts, can contain toxins or antinutritional factors, which can be reduced by soaking, sprouting and cooking (e.g., stir frying). Joy Larkcom advises that to be on the safe side “one shouldn’t eat large quantities of raw legume sprouts on a regular basis, no more than about 550g (20oz) daily”.
Phytic acid, an antinutritional factor, occurs primarily in the seed coats and germ tissue of plant seeds. It forms insoluble or nearly insoluble compounds with many metal ions, including those of calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc, reducing their dietary availability. Diets high in phytic acid content and poor in these minerals produce mineral deficiency in experimental animals (Gontzea and Sutzescu, 1968, as cited in Chavan and Kadam, 1989). The latter authors state that the sprouting of cereals has been reported to decrease levels of phytic acid. Similarly, Shipard (2005) states that enzymes of germination and sprouting can help eliminate detrimental substances such as phytic acid. However, the amount of phytic acid reduction from soaking is only marginal, and not enough to counteract its antinutrient effects 
Standards and Regulations
In order to prevent incidents like the 2011 EHEC epidemic, the European Commission has issued three new, tightened regulations on March 11, 2013.
- Regulation (EU) No 208/2013*
The origin of the seeds has to be traceable always at all stages of processing, production and distribution. Therefore, a full description of the seeds or sprouts needs to be kept on record.(see also Article 18 of Regulation (EC) No 178/2002)
- Regulation (EU) No 209/2013*
This regulation amends Regulation (EC) No 2073/2005 in respect of microbiological criteria for sprouts and the sampling rules for poultry carcases and fresh poultry meat.
- Regulation (EU) No 211/2013*
Imported sprouts or seeds intended for the production of sprouts need a certificate according to the model declared in the Annex of this regulation. The certificate serves as proof that the production process complies with the general hygiene provisions in Part A of Annex I to Regulation (EC) No 852/2004 and the traceability requirements of Implementing Regulation (EU) No 208/2013.
There are a wide variety of techniques used for sprouting. Perhaps the most common for home growers is sprouting in a jar with a fine mesh or muslin cloth tied over the top with a rubber band or string. Fresh water is then added three to four times a day and bottles are left upturned to drain. What technique to use depends on the amount that one wants to collect. The main principles are: selecting good seed (new and uniform), ensuring that light reaches the seeds and also ensuring they receive enough humidity, but avoid water content.
- Bean Sprouts Recipes
- Moyashi (Bean Sprouts) - Japanese Food - About.com
- Bean Sprouts - ThaiTable.com
- Neuman, William (10 June 2011). "The Poster Plant of Health Food Can Pack Disease Risks". New York Times. Retrieved 11 June 2011.
- Breuer, Thomas; et al. "A Multistate Outbreak of Escherichia coli O157:H7 Infections Linked to Alfalfa Sprouts Grown from Contaminated Seeds". Retrieved 19 November 2007.
- Gabriel, Alonzo A.; Berja, M; Estrada, A; Lopez, M; Nery, J; Villaflor, E; et al. (2007). "Microbiology of retail mung bean sprouts vended in public markets of National Capital Region, Philippines". Food Control. 18 (10): 1307–1313. doi:10.1016/j.foodcont.2006.09.004.
- Food and Drug Administration (May 17, 2005). "Transcript of Proceedings of Public Meeting on Sprout Safety". Retrieved 19 November 2007.
- Health Canada. "Sprouted Beans and Seeds". Retrieved 19 November 2007.
- Harrison, H. C. "Growing Edible Sprouts at Home" (PDF). Retrieved 23 November 2007.
- Suslow, Trevor V.; Linda J. Harris. "Growing Seed Sprouts at Home" (PDF). Retrieved 23 November 2007.
- Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC): Update on outbreak in the EU, 27 July 2011
- "Outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli in Germany (22 June 2011, 11:00)". ECDC. 22 June 2011. Retrieved 22 June 2011.
- "E. coli cucumber scare: Russia announces import ban". BBC News Online. 30 May 2011. Archived from the original on 30 May 2011. Retrieved 30 May 2011.
- "E. Two in U.S. infected in German E. coli outbreak". MSNBC Online. 31 May 2011. Retrieved 2 June 2011.
- Douglass, Joy Larkcom ; illustrated by Elizabeth (1995). Salads for small gardens (2nd ed.). [London]: Hamlyn. ISBN 0-600-58509-3.
- Natural Antinutritive Substances in Foodstuffs and Forages (1 ed.). S. Karger; 1 edition (August 28, 1968). p. 184. ISBN 978-3805508568.
- Chavan, J. K.; Kadam, S. S.; Beuchat, Larry R. (January 1989). "Nutritional improvement of cereals by sprouting". Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. 28 (5): 401–437. doi:10.1080/10408398909527508. PMID 2692609.
- Shipard, Isabell (2005). How can I grow and use sprouts as living food?. [Nambour, Qld.?]: David Stewart. ISBN 0975825208.
- Egli, I.; Davidsson, L.; Juillerat, M.A.; Barclay, D.; Hurrell, R.F. (November 2002). "The Influence of Soaking and Germination on the Phytase Activity and Phytic Acid Content of Grains and Seeds Potentially Useful for Complementary Feedin". Journal of Food Science. 67 (9): 3484–3488. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2621.2002.tb09609.x.
- "Dietary amino acid-induced systemic lupus erythematosus". US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.
- Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 208/2013 European Commission, Retrieved 04-20-2013
- Commission Regulation (EU) No 209/2013 European Commission, Retrieved 04-20-2013
- Commission Regulation (EU) No 211/2013 European Commission, Retrieved 04-20-2013
- Takeguma, Massahiro. "Growing Moyashi". Retrieved 9 April 2013.
- Media related to Bean sprouts at Wikimedia Commons