Federal regulators indicate that the sub and sandwich chain Jimmy John’s has been the source of repeated food poisoning outbreaks over the past seven years.
In a warning letter sent to Jimmy John’s Franchise, LLC. on February 21, the FDA indicates that the restaurant chain has habitually “engaged in a pattern of receiving and offering for sale adulterated fresh produce, specifically clover sprouts and cucumbers.”
The FDA and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as state and local agencies, have investigated several Jimmy Johns’ outbreaks since 2012, including five that occurred in 2012 alone, and a most recent E.coli outbreak in Iowa that occurred in December 2019, which sickened 22 people.
A food poisoning lawsuit was filed against Jimmy John’s in 2012, after a widespread outbreak sickened nearly 30 people. At the time, the company announced it planned to remove clover sprouts from the menu; however, it seems that was only a temporary move.
Another E.coli outbreak in 2012 infected 29 people in 11 states with E.Coli after they ate sprouts from Jimmy John’s. This was followed by an outbreak in 2013 in Colorado sickened eight people who ate raw cucumbers.
An outbreak in 2014 in California, Idaho, Michigan, Montana, Utah and Washington infected 19 people with E.Coli after they ate clover sprouts and became sick, and a Jimmy John’s salmonella outbreak in Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin in 2018 infected 10 people.
The restaurant has removed sprouts from all its locations until further notice, according to company representatives. However, the FDA indicates the company has not implemented long-term sustainable corrections to the supply chain to ensure the safety of ingredients used in its products.
The FDA also sent a warning letter to the restaurant chain’s produce supplier, indicating its part in the ongoing outbreaks.
The agency is requesting a response from both Jimmy John’s and the supplier regarding how the companies plan to address the ongoing problem.
“Failure to promptly correct these violations may result in enforcement action by the FDA without further notice, including seizure and/or injunction,” the FDA wrote.