FDA Issues New Warning

About Bacteria in Raw Sprouts

Raw alfalfa, clover and radish sprouts are good sources of nutrients, but the Food and Drug Administration warned yesterday that they also carry the risk of serious illness from salmonella and E. coli 0157 bacteria contamination.

The FDA first warned about risks from raw sprouts in a health advisory last August, and sprout growers have been acting to avoid spreading the bacteria.

"Despite all these efforts to make raw sprouts safer, we continue to receive reports of illnesses associated with raw sprouts," said Food and Drug Commissioner Jane E. Henney. Nearly 200 cases have been reported this year, mostly in the West. "The best way to control this risk is not to eat raw sprouts."

The FDA said inspectors will test water used by commercial growers to produce sprouts and will monitor how well the industry adopts new, cleaner production techniques. But even homegrown sprouts could be a danger because seeds may already be contaminated.

Cooking sprouts is one option, the FDA said.

Problems With Pentagon Police

The special police force that protects the 280-acre Pentagon reservation is beset with management problems, fuzzy lines of authority and low morale, the Defense Department said.

The department's inspector general found that the Defense Protective Service does not comply with its own policies on firearms. It has no master inventory for weapons, and as a result the inspector general could not determine how many weapons were missing, lost or stolen.

The 1997 evaluation reported confusion among DPS's 265 officers about their authority and how they should interact with other law enforcement agencies. The Pentagon acknowledged the problems and said they have been corrected.

In several cases, Pentagon officers exceeded their authority, according to the report. While it applauded the DPS for its plan for dealing with civil disturbances and terrorist acts, the report noted that one supervisor estimated if more than 100 protesters arrived for a demonstration, outside help would be needed.

Hate-Crime Fighters to Convene

Supporters of legislation to expand federal hate crimes law will meet at the White House Monday to plan their campaign for bills that would give the federal government a stronger hand in investigating and prosecuting acts of hatred motivated by sexual orientation, gender and disability. A similar measure died last year.

A week after an Illinois gunman wounded a dozen people and killed two in shootings apparently motivated by racism and antisemitism, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), who is sponsoring a bill with Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), said: "With each new tragedy, it becomes more and more difficult for Congress to claim there's no problem."

The bills would expand the definition of hate crimes to encompass any incident with a connection to interstate commerce, including use of a gun manufactured in another state.

Critics say the bill would discriminate by creating special classes of victims such as gays, would greatly expand the federal government's power and jurisdiction and would have a "chilling effect" on free speech.