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Jimmy John's Sprouts Have Been Linked to Several E. Coli and Salmonella Outbreaks

The ingredient that lends a refreshing crunch has repeatedly been causing illness among Americans.
jimmy johns

It's time to say farewell to Jimmy John's sprouts. The beloved, crunchy topping has been removed from the restaurant's menu in response to repeat outbreaks of several E. coli and Salmonella cases.

The FDA recently issued a warning letter to Sprouts Unlimited Wholesale Foods for equipping Jimmy John's with contaminated sprouts that have since caused five outbreaks of E. coli and Salmonella over the past seven years across 17 states. The USDA also issued a warning letter to the popular sandwich chain with accusations of receiving and selling "adulterated fresh produce, specifically clover sprouts and cucumbers."

The most recent case sickened 22 people in Iowa between November and December 2019.

"Jimmy John's has not demonstrated implementation of long-term sustainable corrections to its supply chain to assure the safety of ingredients used in its products," said Frank Yiannas, the deputy commissioner for food policy and response for the FDA, in a statement. "Americans expect the foods they consume to be safe. We will hold companies accountable when they do not take adequate measures to ensure the safety of the foods they provide."

RELATED: These Are the Most Often Recalled Foods in America.

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For those who are hesitant of going to Jimmy John's for their usual Bootlegger Club sandwich lunch order, rest assured: The sprouts will not be in-shop. Jimmy John's president, James North, confirmed that sprouts have been removed from restaurants nationwide, according to USA TODAY.

"This removal was out of an abundance of caution and was not initiated by any known, immediate threat," North said in a statement sent exclusively to the news publication.

No deaths have been reported among any of the outbreaks, the first of which stems back to 2012. However, the repeated outbreaks indicate that Jimmy John's isn't upholding food safety standards. The letter issued to Sprouts Unlimited also detailed that the wholesale food service didn't "clean and sanitize food contact surfaces used to grow, harvest, pack, or hold sprouts before contact with sprouts or seeds or beans used to grow sprouts."

According to Forbes, both Jimmy John's and Sprouts Unlimited have just 15 working days upon receiving their respective warning letters to respond with corrective actions. The pressing question is, will those delicious sprouts ever return to Jimmy John's? We'll have to stay tuned to find out.

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Cheyenne Buckingham
Cheyenne Buckingham is the news editor of Eat This, Not That!, specializing in food and drink coverage, and breaking down the science behind the latest health studies and information. Read more