Header graphic for print
Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Outbreak of E. coli O26 Infections Linked to Raw Clover Sprouts at Jimmy John’s Restaurants in Alabama, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Michigan, Arkansas, Ohio, and Wisconsin

JimmyJohnsSprouts030812-map.jpgA total of 25 persons infected with the outbreak strain of STEC O26 have been reported from 8 states.

The number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows: Alabama (1), Iowa (5), Missouri (3), Kansas (2), Michigan (9), Arkansas (1), Ohio (3), and Wisconsin (1).

Six ill persons have been hospitalized, and no deaths have been reported.

Results of the epidemiologic and traceback investigations indicate eating raw clover sprouts at Jimmy John’s restaurants is the likely cause of this outbreak.

Hmmm, this sounds familiar.

Sprouters Northwest, Jimmy John’s Restaurants Clover Sprouts 2010

7 Sickened – Sprouters Northwest of Kent, Washington, issued a product recall after the company’s clover sprouts had been implicated in an outbreak of Salmonella Newport in Oregon and Washington. At least some of the cases had consumed clover sprouts while at a Jimmy John’s restaurants. Jimmy John’s Restaurants are a restaurant chain that sells sandwiches. Concurrent with this outbreak, a separate Salmonella outbreak (Salmonella, serotype I 4,5,12,i- ; see Multistate Outbreak, Tiny Greens Organic Farm, Jimmy John’s Restaurants), involving alfalfa sprouts served at Jimmy John’s restaurants was under investigation. The recall of Northwest Sprouters products included: clover; clover & onion; spicy sprouts; and deli sprouts. The Sprouters Northwest products had been sold to grocery stores and wholesale operations in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Alaska, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. The FDA inspection found serious sanitary violations.

Multistate Outbreak, Tiny Greens Organic Farm, Jimmy John’s Restaurants Alfalfa Sprouts 2010

140 Sickened – On December 17, the Illinois Department of Health announced that an investigation was underway into an outbreak of Salmonella, serotype I4,[5],12:i:-. Many of the Illinois cases had eaten alfalfa sprouts at various Jimmy John’s restaurants in the Illinois counties of: Adams, Champaign, Cook, DuPage, Kankakee, Macon, McHenry, McLean, Peoria, and Will counties. The sprouts were suspected to be the cause of the illnesses. On December 21, Jimmy John Liautaud, the owner of the franchised restaurant chain, requested that all franchisees remove sprouts from the menu as a “precautionary” measure. On December 23, the Centers for Disease Control revealed that outbreak cases had been detected in other states and that the outbreak was linked with eating alfalfa sprouts while at a nationwide sandwich chain. On December 26, preliminary results of the investigation indicated a link to eating Tiny Greens’ Alfalfa Sprouts at Jimmy John’s restaurant outlets. The FDA subsequently advised consumers and restaurants to avoid Tiny Greens Brand Alfalfa Sprouts and Spicy Sprouts produced by Tiny Greens Organic Farm of Urbana, Illinois. The Spicy Sprouts contained alfalfa, radish and clover sprouts. On January 14, 2011, it was revealed that the FDA had isolated Salmonella serotype I4,[5],12:i:- from a water runoff sample collected from Tiny Greens Organic Farm; the Salmonella isolated was indistinguishable from the outbreak strain. The several FDA inspections of the sprout growing facility revealed factors that likely led to contamination of the sprouts.

CW Sprouts, Inc., SunSprout Sprouts, “restaurant chain (Chain A),” a.k.a. Jimmy Johns 2009

256 Sickened – In February, Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services officials identified six isolates of Salmonella Saintpaul. Although this is a common strain of Salmonella, during 2008, only three cases had been detected in Nebraska and only four subtypes of this outbreak strain had been identified in 2008 in the entire USA. As additional reports were made, a case control study was conducted; alfalfa sprout consumption was found to be significantly related to illness. The initial tracebacks of the sprouts indicated that although the sprouts had been distributed by various companies, the sprouts from the first cases originated from the same sprouting facility in Omaha, Nebraska. Forty-two of the illnesses beginning on March 15 were attributed to sprout growing facilities in other states; these facilities had obtained seed from the same seed producer, Caudill Seed Company of Kentucky. The implicated seeds had been sold in many states. On April 26, the FDA and CDC recommended that consumers not eat raw alfalfa sprouts, including sprout blends containing alfalfa sprouts. In May, FDA alerted sprout growers and retailers that a seed supplier, Caudill Seed Company of Kentucky, was withdrawing all alfalfa seeds with a specific three-digit prefix. Many of the illnesses occurred at “restaurant chain (Chain A).”

Jimmy John’s Restaurant Alfalfa Sprouts and Iceberg Lettuce 2008

28 Sickened – Several University of Colorado students from one sorority became ill with symptoms of bloody diarrhea and cramping. Additional illnesses were reported. E. coli O157:NM(H-) was determined to be the cause. Consumption of alfalfa sprouts at the Jimmy John’s Restaurants in Boulder County and Adams County were risk factors for illness. In addition, the environmental investigation identified Boulder Jimmy John’s food handlers who were infected with E. coli and who had worked while ill. The health department investigation found a number of critical food handling violations, including inadequate handwashing. The fourteen isolates from confirmed cases were a genetic match to one another.

  • After I originally commented I appear to have clicked
    the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from
    now on whenever a comment is added I recieve four emails with the exact same comment.
    Perhaps there is a way you can remove me from that service?
    Many thanks!

  • Thanks for compiling this list of “sprouts” and food poisoning events from Jimmy John’s.
    Several years in a row without removing the item from the menu suggests poor QA at best and lack of concern for the risks of their customers at worst.
    I enjoy Jimmy John’s and am generally pleased with their level of hygiene but the decision to keep sprouts on the menu is really troubling.
    Dr.Stueven Founder DiningGrades.com

  • Paul F Schwarz

    Good thing that i have already, in a previous comment, crossed off Jimmy John’s from places to eat.

  • Tamara

    On the Jimmy John’s Facebook page, the Jimmy John’s response to the customers who are bemoaning the absence of sprouts is “I’m getting closer to resolving the issue, I’ll get you in the mood again soon !” The only thing that could satisfy the sprouts lovers must be more sprouts. It will be interesting to see what they do. This article detailing Jimmy John’s painful history with sprouts is telling. If only all of those people crying for sprouts would read it.

  • Tamara

    Unbelievable. I just went through pages and pages of comments on Jimmy John’s Facebook page. Still no mention of why sprouts were removed from the menu. Just two days ago (Wed Mar 7) someone asked and the official response is still the same as before.
    Matthew David Jones: So why were the sprouts discontinued? Thanks. :-/
    Jimmy John’s: Supplies were inconsistent :-/

  • Paul F Schwarz

    Tamara, If a corporation isn’t required to notify the public why should they! Jimmy John’s should be required by law to inform th public immediately! I mean now that corporations are ‘people’ you would think that would be the moral thing to do. I guess that greed trumps doing the right thing!
    Section 51 Row 1 Grave 3

  • Tamara

    I’m amazed by the number of comments on Jimmy John’s facebook page from people who know what happened but still write things like “I don’t care, bring back the sprouts!”. I guess they think a bout of food poisoning amounts to a day or so of diarrhea and that’s it, or they engage in the pervasive “blame the victim” thinking.