Health officials with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have announced an outbreak of Escherichia coli O103 in 5 states. According to the CDC, epidemiologic evidence suggests that clover sprouts served at Jimmy John’s sandwich restaurants are the likely source of the outbreak.
As of February 27th, 14 illnesses have been reported. Jimmy John’s indicated that it stopped serving sprouts at its locations on February 24th, but consumers with leftover sandwiches with sprouts should dispose of them.
The outbreak investigation comes just days after FDA issued a warning letter to Jimmy John’s describing a “pattern of receiving and offering for sale adulterated fresh produce, specifically clover sprouts and cucumbers.”
The warning letter was not related to the ongoing outbreak, instead citing 5 previous outbreaks of Salmonella and E coli in which the sandwich chain was implicated.
In this outbreak of E coli, the onset of illness dates range from January 6, 2020 to February 11, 2020. The affected individuals range in age from1 to 79 years with a median age of 28 years. In total, 62% of the ill are male. No hospitalizations or deaths have been reported at this time.
State and local public health officials are interviewing the ill individuals to evaluate their exposure and consumptions prior to onset of symptoms. In total 6 people were interviewed, 5 of whom reported eating at a Jimmy John’s and 4 remembered eating sprouts on a sandwich.
The most recent illness onset was on February 11th. Symptoms typically develop within 9 days, so despite sprouts no longer being served there it remains to be seen if more cases associated with sprouts served at Jimmy John’s will occur.
FDA is also looking into whether contaminated sprouts were served by other retailers.
“FDA has activated a team to coordinate this outbreak investigation. This team is currently collecting records and initiating a traceback investigation to determine the source of the clover sprouts. Authorities are investigating whether implicated sprouts have been distributed elsewhere and will continue monitoring for additional illnesses,” according to the FDA’s statement.
Consumers and clinicians are advised to report suspected cases.
“The CDC is recommending that consumers who have recently eaten clover sprouts on a sandwich from Jimmy John’s restaurants and who are experiencing symptoms of E coli infection, such as severe stomach cramps, diarrhea, fever, nausea, and/or vomiting, should contact their doctor and report their illness to their local health department.”
This is an ongoing investigation and updates will be provided as they become available.
For the most recent case counts in the E coli outbreak with a suspected link to Jimmy John's visit the Contagion® Outbreak Monitor.