UPDATED 5:30 P.M. CST JAN. 19
Jimmy John’s has instructed its locations to stop serving sprouts while the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention investigate a multi-state salmonella cluster that officials have linked to sprouts from the sandwich chain.
The FDA and CDC are advising that people not eat sprouts from Jimmy John’s restaurants in Illinois or Wisconsin because the product could cause salmonellosis.
The CDC found sprouts from the chain to be the likely cause of eight illnesses — two in Illinois, one in Minnesota and five in Wisconsin. Start dates of illnesses ranged from Dec. 20 to Jan. 3.
Seven of the eight sick people reported they ate sprouts on Jimmy John’s sandwiches prior to becoming sick. Between them, the ill people ate at six locations of the chain, according to the CDC.
The case count could increase because the average time between a person falling ill and the illness being reported is 2-4 weeks, so illnesses that started after Dec. 29 might not be reported, per the CDC.
All who have reported getting sick are women, and they fall between the ages of 26 and 50. No hospitalizations or deaths have been reported, and no recall is yet associated with the outbreak.
Jimmy John’s stated in a news release that it purchased the suspected sprouts from two growers in Minnesota.
The Illinois Department of Public Health and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services publicly requested that all Jimmy John’s locations in the state remove sprouts from the menu until the investigation is complete.
“Food safety and the welfare of our customers are our top priorities and not negotiable in our business,” James North, Jimmy John’s president and CEO, said in the release. “We have been working closely with the departments of health in Illinois and Wisconsin, as well as their federal counterparts, as they investigate the claims.
“While the results of the investigation are not conclusive and we are still gathering more information, we have voluntarily directed all franchisees to remove sprouts as a precautionary measure from all supply and distribution,” North said.
Jimmy John’s has a history of issues with sprouts. In February 2012, the chain announced it would take sprouts off the menu for good after five outbreaks in four years traced back to sprouts on sandwiches from its restaurants.
Months later, however, Jimmy John’s decided to reintroduce them. That move happened at the same time Kroger decided to stop selling sprouts due to food safety concerns.