The FDA is working with the state health departments and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the investigation. FDA spokesman Doug Karas said the agency does not comment on ongoing investigations, but added he thought information would be available on the FDA website May 22.
Scharf said investigators told him they wouldn’t have test results until after Memorial Day.
Sprouts from Evergreen were linked to a salmonella outbreak that occurred from April to June in 2011. At that time, Scharf’s mother initially declined to recall product because she said the government did not have any proof the illnesses were linked to her sprouts.
She eventually issued a recall. Ultimately none of the tests conducted by government officials showed a link between her sprouts and the outbreak. But FDA officials said the interviews with victims clearly implicated the Evergreen sprouts.
The FDA issued a warning letter to Evergreen several months after the 2011 outbreak, citing dirty conditions, leaking water and other deficiencies at the growing facility. A year later, in October 2012, the agency sent a closeout letter to the company saying the problems had been adequately resolved.
Sprouts are considered a high-risk food by the FDA and other agencies. A report published by researchers from Kansas State University in 2013 showed 55 documented outbreaks linked to sprouts in the past two decades. Those outbreaks sickened an estimated 15,000 people.
Outbreaks linked to fresh sprouts are not new for the Jimmy John’s restaurant chain. Health officials linked outbreaks to sprouts served at the restaurants in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011. The chain pulled sprouts from its menu at one point, but has reintroduced them.