The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent warning letters to Sprout’s Unlimited of Marion, IA and Jimmy John’s sandwich chain for recurring violations in food poisoning outbreaks linked to clover sprouts and cucumbers.

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Jimmy John’s, a chain with more than 2,800 locations in 43 states, has been implicated in several E. coli and Salmonella outbreaks over the past seven years that have sickened 88 people in at least 17 states. The FDA details five food poisoning outbreaks linked to Jimmy John’s, accusing the chain of engaging “in a pattern of receiving and offering for sale adulterated fresh produce, specifically clover sprouts and cucumbers.”

According to Jimmy John’s, the chain has removed sprouts from all of its locations until further notice. The FDA also sent a warning letter to a supplier of Jimmy John’s, Sprouts Unlimited of Marion, IA, which provided sprouts to the Jimmy John’s locations that sickened 22 people in Iowa with E. coli O103 infections in 2019.

The FDA letters say that Sprouts Unlimited and Jimmy John’s need to respond with the specific actions they will take to address violations within 15 days.

Recent Jimmy John’s Food Poisoning Outbreaks

  1. E. coli O103 Outbreak
    As of January 7th, 2020, the Iowa Health Department reported 22 cases of E. coli O103 infections. All of the people sickened reported eating at one or more of the 15 Jimmy John’s restaurants in Iowa. Nine people reported eating sprouts in the week before they became ill. Samples of sprouts and sprout irrigation water collected by the supplier, Sprouts Unlimited, yielded a strain of E. coli O103 that was related to the outbreak strain by Whole Genome Sequencing.
  2. Salmonella Montevideo Outbreak
    In 2018, a Jimmy John’s Salmonella Montevideo outbreak sickened 10 people – two in Illinois, two in Minnesota and six in Wisconsin.  Eight of the people sickened reported eating raw sprouts on Jimmy John’s sandwiches in Illinois and Wisconsin. One person became sick from sprouts purchased at a grocery store in Minnesota.
  3. E. coli O102 Outbreak
    In August 2014, the CDC reported 19 E. coli O102 (STEC) infections in California, Idaho, Michigan, Montana, Utah, and Washington. Thirteen of the people sickened reported eating clover sprouts in the week before they became ill.
  4. E. coli O157:H7 Outbreak
    By the end of October 2013, the CDC reported eight cases of E. coli O157:H7 (STEC) infections in Colorado. All of the people sickened reported eating Jimmy John’s sandwiches with raw cucumbers from one of three Jimmy John’s restaurants in the Denver metro area.
  5. E. coli O26 Outbreak
    As of April 5, 2012, the CDC reported 29 cases of E. coli O26 infections in 11 states. Of the 29 people sickened, 23 reported eating sprouts at one of six Jimmy John’s restaurants in the week preceding illness.

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