January 30, 2023

Jimmy John’s Sprouts: 5 Food Poisoning Outbreaks in 5 Years

For the fifth time in five years, sprouts served at Jimmy John’s sandwich shops are the source of a food poisoning outbreak. Seven people in Washington and Idaho have confirmed cases of E .coli poisoning and three others have probable cases, Washington health officials announced yesterday.

Alfalfa-Sprouts-2Last fall, an E. coli outbreak linked to Jimmy John’s in the Denver area sickened eight people. The source of that outbreak was identified as fresh produce other than sprouts. But sprouts have been such a repeat offender for the chain that the company said it was permanently pulling them from the menu after a 2012 E.coli outbreak.

But six months after he announced the sprouts were gone for good, the company’s founder, Jimmy John Liautaud, brought them back. “I am rolling out a new sprout. Costs more for me, it’s tougher to manage, but we think we hit a home run on this one,” he said in a Facebook post.

It’s hard to say which baseball analogy works here. Swing and a miss? Five strikes, you’re out? Definitely not a home run.

Health officials say growing conditions for sprouts are the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. The warm temperatures and moisture help bacteria thrive. And the contamination is usually inside each seed, so washing the seeds does not make a difference. That’s why they are so frequently recalled for contamination and linked to food poisoning outbreaks like these four at Jimmy John’s:

In 2012, 29 people in 11 states were sickened with E.coli 026 infections after eating sandwiches with sprouts at Jimmy John’s. Seven people were hospitalized.

In January 2011, a Salmonella Newport outbreak that sickened six people in Oregon and Washington was linked to sprouts served at Jimmy John’s restaurants. 

Salmonella outbreak that began in 2010 sickened 140 people in 26 states and the District of Columbia. The outbreak strain,  Salmonella serotype I 4,[5],12:i:, tainted sprouts from Tiny Greens Alfalfa Sprouts or Spicy Sprouts at Jimmy John’s restaurants.

In 2009, 235 people in 14 states were sickened by sprouts contaminated with Salmonella St Paul. Some of them ate the sprouts on Jimmy John’s sandwiches.

If you eat sprouts and start experiencing the symptoms of food poisoning, including vomiting, diarrhea that may be bloody, and abdominal cramps and pains, see your doctor.

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