September 26, 2020

Possible Poisoning Outbreak at Jimmy John’s on Laclede in St. Louis

A possible food poisoning outbreak at a Jimmy John’s restaurant at 3822 Laclede Avenue in St. Louis, Missouri may have sickened “multiple” students who attend St. Louis University. The University News, the newspaper for that campus, published this information on February 20, 2020.

Possible Poisoning Outbreak at Jimmy John's on Laclede in St. Louis

The article states that multiple students got sick “shortly after eating at the sandwich shop, some even being hospitalized.” It seems that these illnesses happened in mid to late January 2020. The students attended a campus retreat for an SLU organization and that retreat was catered by Jimmy John’s.

More than a dozen students were sickened after attending that retreat and eating the food provided by Jimmy John’s. They suffered from weakness and vomiting. The paper claims that the restaurant was shut down about a week after the illnesses occurred. There is no information about this closure on the City of St. Louis Health Department web site.

Kim Vanden Berg, Public Information Officer for the Health Department, told The University News that the restaurant was closed because of complaints about people “experiencing gastrointestinal illness following dining from the establishment.” The restaurant did reopen when officials said there was no risk to the public.

Lawyer Fred Pritzker

Food safety attorney Fred Pritzker said, “Another outbreak at Jimmy John’s is discouraging. All restaurants need to take responsibility for the food they serve. Hopefully all of these students recovered and won’t suffer complications from this infection.” If  you or a loved one has been diagnosed with food poisoning, you can contact Fred for help by calling 1-888-377-8900 or 612-338-0202.

There is no word on what pathogen caused these illnesses. Since symptoms started occurring soon after the allegedly contaminated food was eaten, and since all of the students have apparently recovered,  it could have been norovirus, Clostridium perfringens, Salmonella, Staphylococcus aureus, or Bacillus cereus. But this is only speculation.

There have been quite a few outbreaks at Jimmy John’s restaurants over the past decade or so. One of the main culprits in these outbreaks has been raw sprouts, leading some to label these illnesses “sproutbreaks.” In 2018, a Salmonella outbreak linked to Jimmy John’s raw sprouts sickened 10 people in 3 states. From 2011 through 2015, there were five outbreaks linked to Jimmy John’s restaurants. In 2012 raw sprouts were “permanently pulled from the menu” after multiple outbreaks, but the restaurant chain started serving them again.

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