The FDA has issued a warning letter to Jimmy John’s claiming the sandwich shop served produce implicated in five outbreaks of salmonella or E. coli in the last seven years. According to the FDA, Jimmy John’s engaged in a pattern of receiving and selling cucumbers, clover sprouts, and other fresh produce that was believed to be contaminated.
According to Frank Yianna, FDA Deputy Commissioner, “Jimmy John’s restaurants have been implicated in multiple outbreaks that have spanned the past seven years and impacted consumers in no fewer than 17 states. Jimmy John’s has not demonstrated the implementation of long-term sustainable corrections to its supply chain to assure the safety of ingredients used in its products.”
In response to the accusations, the restaurant removed sprouts from all of its shops and according to James North, Jimmy John’s president, “Food safety is our top priority.” North said the removal was not due to a specific known threat and called the removal something done out of an abundance of caution.
Penalties Ahead If Restaurant Does Not Resolve Problem
The FDA is asking that Jimmy John’s has 15 days to clarify the specific things it will do to address the violation and if it fails to correct the violation, the restaurant chain could face seizure or injunction.
In addition to Jimmy John’s receiving notification about the violation, its supplier was also notified by the FDA. According to the agency, the supplier was responsible for delivering sprouts to Jimmy John’s in Iowa that sickened at least 22 people with E. coli.
Additional outbreaks include:
- February 2018 salmonella outbreak that infected 10 people in Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Eight of the 10 people affected had dined at Jimmy John’s, while the other two purchased sprouts from a food market.
- August 2014 E. coli outbreak that affected 19 people in California, Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Utah. Jimmy John’s clover sprouts were likely the source of the outbreak.
- An October 2013 E. coli outbreak that affected eight people in Colorado who ate raw cucumbers from the Denver area Jimmy John’s restaurants.
- An April 2012 E. coli outbreak that affected 29 people in 11 states who had eaten at Jimmy John’s.
What are E. Coli and Salmonella?
Salmonella and E. coli are different types of bacteria. Both produce digestive distress and are most often contracted when contaminated food is eaten.
Salmonella is the name of a group of bacteria and is the most common cause of foodborne illness in the United States.
Symptoms of salmonella poisoning include:
- Abdominal cramps
These symptoms usually last four to seven days and most people recover without treatment. However, salmonella poisoning can be serious, especially for the elderly, infants and people with compromised immunity. It can also be serious and potentially life-threatening if salmonella gets into the bloodstream. Treatment usually entails antibiotics, dehydration monitoring, and rest.
Some E. coli bacteria are non-threatening, but others can make you sick and cause diarrhea. The worst strain of E. coli causes bloody diarrhea and can lead to kidney failure and even death. Again, the highest risk for complications from exposure to E. coli is for the elderly, children, and adults with weakened immune systems.
The illnesses associated with E. coli and salmonella are extremely unpleasant. In rare cases, especially for children and the elder, both can lead to serious health concerns.
Jimmy John’s is a sub and sandwich shop that opened in Illinois in 1983. Today it has more than 2800 franchise locations in 43 states.