An E. coli outbreak has been linked to sprouts served at Jimmy John’s restaurants. Again. People familiar with the Jimmy John’s menu know that the sandwich shop chain is one of the few to offer sprouts. And people familiar with Jimmy John’s history of food poisoning “sproutbreaks” wonder why. Even the company’s founder, Jimmy John Liautaud, has had second thoughts about them.

In 2012, after the company had been linked to its fourth sproutbreak in four years (see summary below), Liautaud said he was pulling them from the menu permanently.  But then Liautaud had second thoughts about his second thoughts and, eight months later, announced he was putting them back on the menu. Not the same kind of sprouts (alfalfa sprouts) that had been linked to all the problems, he said, a different kind of sprout that would cost him more but be less problematic, clover sprouts.

Eighteen months later, clover sprouts served at Jimmy John’s and other restaurants were linked to an E. coli O121 outbreak that sickened 19 people in five states. Last year, a threes-state Salmonella outbreak linked to clover sprouts served at Jimmy John’s sickened 10 people. Now, clover sprouts produced by Sprouts Unlimited of Marion, Iowa have been identified as the likely source of a number of E. coli O103 illnesses in Iowa. The sprouts, which were sold at HyVee and Fareway grocery stores and at Jimmy John’s locations in Iowa, have been recalled.

Symptoms of an E. coli infection include abdominal cramps and diarrhea that can be bloody. These symptoms usually develop within one to three days of exposure and last about a week. About 7 percent of people with E. coli infections develop a complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which causes kidney failure, seizure, stroke, coma and death.


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The food safety risk associated with raw sprouts is well-documented and public health officials believe sprouts can only be consumed safely if they are cooked. Over the last 20 years, sprouts have been linked to more than 40 food poisoning outbreaks that sickened more than 2,400 people resulting in 171 hospitalizations and three deaths. These outbreaks were caused by a variety of bacteria including Listeria, Salmonella and E. coli which grow well in the warm, humid environments with nutrient-rich soils that are ideal for growing sprouts.

An entire section of the Food Safety Modernization Act is dedicated to the unique food safety risk sprouts pose. To prevent illness, growers are supposed to test seeds and irrigation water for bacteria and take corrective actions if any samples are positive.

The E. coli lawyers at Pritzker Hageman represent clients sickened by contaminated food. If you would like to request a free consultation with our E. coli Team, call us at 1-888-377-8900, text us at 612-261-0856 or, fill out the form below.

Jimmy John's E. coli Sprouts

Jimmy John’s Sprout Outbreaks (Sproutbreaks)

In December 2019, sprouts produced by Sprouts Unlimited and sold at grocery stores and Jimmy John’s restaurants are linked to an E. coli outbreak.

In 2018, a three-state Salmonella outbreak that sickened 10 people was linked to sprouts served at Jimmy John’s.

in 2014, a five-state E. coli  O103 outbreak sickened 19 people. Some of them ate the sprouts on Jimmy John’s sandwiches. Five people were hospitalized.

In 2012, an 11-state E.coli 026 outbreak sickened 29 people, seven were hospitalized. Some of them ate the sprouts on Jimmy John’s sandwiches.

In 2011, a Salmonella Newport outbreak sickened six people in Oregon and Washington. 

In 2010, a Salmonella outbreak sickened 140 people in 26 states and the District of Columbia. Some of them ate the sprouts on Jimmy John’s sandwiches.

In 2009, a Salmonella outbreak sickened 235 people in 14 states.  Some of them ate the sprouts on Jimmy John’s sandwiches.

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