The FDA issued a warning letter to the sandwich chain Jimmy John’s after sprouts and cucumbers were linked to multiple outbreaks of food poisoning.
The outbreaks involve E. coli and Salmonella illnesses from clover sprouts and cucumbers, spanning 17 states since 2012.
Most recently, at least 22 people in Iowa were infected with E. coli O103 as of January 7, 2020, according to the warning letter.
The FDA warning letter does not mention a Jimmy John’s that was shut down after several students from St. Louis University were hospitalized.
The FDA warning letter goes on to describe 4 additional outbreaks of food poisoning, which the company did not follow up with any “long-term, sustainable corrections,” according to the FDA.
In February 2018, 10 people were infected with Salmonella Montevideo, including 8 people who ate raw sprouts on sandwiches from Jimmy John’s in Illinois and Wisconsin.
In August 2014, 19 people were infected with E. coli O121 after eating sprouts, including several people who ate raw clover sprouts on sandwiches from 5 Jimmy John’s restaurants. Illnesses were reported in Idaho, Montana, Michigan, Utah, California, and Washington.
In October 2013, 8 people in Colorado were infected with E. coli O157:H7. All of them reported eating a Jimmy John’s sandwich with cucumbers in the Denver metro area just before they fell ill.
In April 2012, 29 people in 11 states were infected with E. coli O26, including 23 people who reported eating sprouts at Jimmy John’s before they fell ill.
The FDA warning letter fails to mention several additional food poisoning outbreaks linked to sprouts at Jimmy John’s before 2012.
In January 2011, an outbreak of Salmonella Newport sickened 6 people in Oregon and Washington. Two illnesses were linked to sprouts at Jimmy John’s restaurants in Bend, Oregon.
From November 2010 through January 2011, at least 112 people were sickened with Salmonella in 18 states. The CDC outbreak investigation indicates “a link to eating Tiny Greens Alfalfa Sprouts at Jimmy John’s restaurant outlets.”
Raw sprouts are one of the most common sources of food poisoning outbreaks, according to the CDC, because bacteria and sprouts grow in warm, wet conditions.