July 16, 2018

Jimmy John’s Sproutbreak: E.coli on Sprouts Sickens 10 in WA, ID

Raw clover sprouts on Jimmy John’s and other fast food sandwiches are the likely source of an E. coli outbreak that has sickened 10 people in Washington and Idaho, according to the Washington State Department of Health. Seven people have confirmed cases of E. coli O121 poisoning and three have probable cases. Five people have been hospitalized.

Alfalfa sproutsHealth officials are warning consumers not to eat raw clover sprouts from Evergreen Fresh Sprouts, LLC of Idaho. They were distributed to restaurants and grocery stores in the northwest.  “If you have these products at home, you should throw them out.,” said Washington State Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy.

In Washington, the sprouts were served on sandwiches at Jimmy John’s locations in King and Spokane counties and two Pita Pit locations in Spokane County. In Idaho, they were served at a Daanen’s Deli and a Jimmy John’s in Kootenai County. All of the restaurants have voluntarily suspended serving sprouts.

In Washington, there have been five cases were reported in Spokane County and two in King County. In Idaho, three illnesses have been reported in Kootenai County. Health authorities say initial investigations indicate there is a strong link between the illnesses and the raw clover sprouts produced by Evergreen.

Like E. coli O157:H7,  E. coli O121 produces a Shiga toxin that causes severe illness that can be fatal. Symptoms of E. coli poisoning include bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramps, fever, and vomiting.

Because they need warm, humid conditions to grow, sprouts are a good breeding ground for bacteria and a known to cause food poisoning outbreaks, or “sproutbreaks.” Jimmy John’s has been linked to several sproutbreaks.

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