FDA Warns Jimmy John’s Against Adulterated Fresh Produce For E. Coli

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned sandwich chain Jimmy John’s Franchise, LLC for selling adulterated fresh produce, mainly sprouts, linked to Escherichia coli O103 outbreak. Following the warning, Jimmy John’s reportedly removed sprouts from the menu at all of its restaurants.

The Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as state and local health officials have been investigating several E. coli outbreaks linked to Jimmy John’s restaurants. The outbreaks were occurred in the past seven years and impacted seventeen states.

In the investigations, the food and health regulators found the evidence that Jimmy John’s restaurants were receiving and offering for sale adulterated fresh produce, specifically clover sprouts and cucumbers.

The agencies studied five outbreaks, including the most recent E. coli outbreak in the state of Iowa during December 2019 that affected a total of 22 people as of January 7. In Iowa, all the 22 affected people reported eating at one or more of 15 Jimmy John’s restaurants.

The agencies also studied February 2018 infections with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Montevideo; August 2014 infections with outbreak strain of E. coli O121; October 2013 infections of outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7; and April 2012 infections with outbreak strain of E. coli O26. Majority of the affected people reported eating at Jimmy John’s restaurants, mainly sprouts and cucumbers.

As per the investigation, the pathogens associated with these outbreaks were found to be Shiga toxin producing E. coli and Salmonella enterica.

The FDA noted that the presence of these pathogens in Jimmy John’s food, as evidenced by links to foodborne outbreaks, causes its products to be adulterated under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

E. coli infections can cause serious illness in humans, including diarrhea, often with bloody stools, while Salmonella is a pathogenic bacterium that can cause serious, sometimes fatal, infections.

The FDA warned that the company’s corporate-wide supplier control mechanisms for receiving fresh produce are inadequate. The agency also demanded detailed preventive steps for the receipt and sale of adulterated food at each of its restaurants.

The company has franchised approximately 2,800 Jimmy John’s restaurants in 43 states.

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