December 10, 2023

Jimmy John’s 2013 Colorado E. coli Outbreak Linked to Imported Cucumbers

A 2013 E.coli outbreak that sickened nine Jimmy John’s customers in the Denver area has been linked to cucumbers imported from Mexico. Health officials in Colorado have released a 27-page report detailing the investigation into the October 2013 outbreak, which they believe is the first E. coli O157:H7 outbreak associated with cucumbers in the United States.

Salmonella in cucumbers at Red LobsterAll nine people who were sickened reported eating sandwiches containing cucumbers at three Denver-area Jimmy John’s shops in early October 2013. Lab tests confirmed that they were all sickened by the same E.coli strain.

How the cucumbers became contaminated isn’t clear, but it’s likely that the three store received contaminated cucumbers, health officials say. “It is very unlikely that contamination occurred within the 3 implicated Jimmy John’s locations, as no major food handling violations were noted during the environmental assessments and no ill food handlers were discovered.”

Because Colorado health officials are only authorized to investigate within the state, they “were unable to investigate if or how the cucumbers became contaminated prior to arriving in Colorado.” The report does not mention why investigators from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), who were involved in the investigation, were unable to clarify that point.

What is does say is that contamination could have taken place during growing, harvest, transport, or distribution and that, going forward, food safety officials must consider cucumbers as a possible vehicle for E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks.

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