14 new E. coli cases linked to sprouts from Jimmy Johns, FDA says

Tribune Content Agency

An outbreak of 14 new E. coli illnesses were likely caused by sprouts from Jimmy John’s, federal authorities said Wednesday, marking the sixth outbreak linked to the Champaign, Ill.-based sandwich chain.

The new illnesses were reported in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Texas and Utah. People who recently ate clover sprouts on a Jimmy John’s sandwich and are experiencing symptoms such as severe stomach cramps, diarrhea, fever, nausea or vomiting should contact their doctor and report the illness to their local health department, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Jimmy John’s on Monday stopped serving clover sprouts at all of its restaurants. A day later, the Food and Drug Administration announced it had sent the company a warning letter, dated Feb. 21, outlining evidence that its sprouts and cucumbers were implicated in five outbreaks of E. coli and salmonella illnesses between April 2012 and December 2019 that sickened 88 people across at least 17 states.

The letter accused the sandwich maker of “engaging in a pattern of receiving and offering for sale adulterated fresh produce” and not demonstrating long-term corrections. It gave the company 15 days to address the violation.

The 14 new E. coli cases were not associated with the outbreaks mentioned in the warning letter, “but they do underscore the seriousness of the issue as we work with Jimmy John’s to prevent outbreaks like these in the future,” said Frank Yiannas, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for food policy and response.

The FDA is working to trace back the source of the sprouts implicated in the new cases and determine if they’ve been distributed elsewhere.

Jimmy Johns could not immediately be reached Wednesday for comment. In an emailed statement Tuesday after the FDA announced the warning letter, Jimmy John’s President James North called food safety “our top priority” and said the removal of sprouts from all restaurants until further notice was “out of an abundance of caution and was not initiated by any known, immediate threat.”

Jimmy John’s, which has more than 2,800 restaurants, in October was acquired by Atlanta-based Inspire Brands, which also owns Arby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, Sonic Drive-In and Rusty Taco.


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