In its final update on the Jimmy John’s clover sprouts E. coli outbreak that sickened customers of the fast-food sandwich chain in 11 states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced a count of 29 total case patients, including at least seven who were hospitalized.
The official announcement from the agency said outbreak victims ranged in age from 9 to 57 and that 89 percent of them were women. No deaths were reported and there were no reported cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).
The outbreak of E. coli O26 started in late December 2011 and investigators continued to confirm new cases throughout the month of March. It was in February when the CDC announced that traceback investigations indicated that eating raw clover sprouts at Jimmy John’s restaurants was the likely cause of the outbreak. Further traceback evidence showed that two separate sprouting facilities supplying different Jimmy John’s restaurants where people got sick used the same lot of seeds from the same supplier.
For Jimmy John’s, it was a repeat of past outbreaks where sprouts also were implicated as the cause of food poisoning. All sprouts were removed from the menu this time, but too late to stop another round of Jimmy John’s food poisoning lawsuits.
Fred Pritzker, one of only a few U.S. trial attorneys practicing extensively in the area of food-borne illness litigation, said he hopes the 2012 Jimmy John’s E. coli outbreak serves as another lesson to the entire restaurant industry to eliminate raw sprouts from food offerings. Sprouts also were at the center of outbreaks in Germany and France last year that killed more than 50 people and sickened more than 4,000.
“There’s just no way around the fact that raw sprouts are dangerous,” said Attorney Fred Pritzker, whose law firm, PritzkerOlsen, P.A., represents a client in the latest Jimmy John’s outbreak. “It’s time for everyone to start applying what is nothing more than common sense to protect vulnerable people from getting sick.”
The CDC’s final report on the Jimmy John’s outbreak identified illnesses in each state as follows:
Alabama (1), Arkansas (1), Iowa (5), Kansas (2), Michigan (10), Missouri (3), Ohio (3), Pennsylvania (1), Washington (1), Wisconsin (1), and West Virginia (1).