Published: Oct 22, 2012 4:47 PM EDT
Updated: Oct 23, 2012 6:31 AM EDT

NEW YORK (AP) - Kroger says it has stopped stocking sprouts as of Monday because of their "potential food safety risk."

The nation's largest traditional grocer joins Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer, which pulled sprouts in 2010.

The grocer says current technology can't assure that sprouts are safe to eat because germs can reside inside the seeds.

Payton Pruett, Kroger Co.'s vice president of food safety, adds that Kroger is open to revisiting this policy when safety can be assured.

The government says sprouts have been tied to at least 30 outbreaks of illnesses such as salmonella and E. coli since 1996. Thoroughly cooking sprouts reduces the risk of illness.

Kroger, based in Cincinnati, operates more than 2,400 stores in 31 states.

Kroger's shares rose 22 cents to $25.35 Monday.