FDA claims Jimmy John's served vegetables linked to salmonella, E. coli outbreaks

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Federal health officials slapped Jimmy John’s with a warning letter accusing the sandwich chain of serving vegetables linked to multiple E. Coli or salmonella outbreaks over the past seven years.

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The Food and Drug Administration claims the company repeatedly engaged in a pattern using “adulterated fresh produce, specifically clover sprouts, and cucumbers" that have been linked to five outbreaks, including the most recent E. Coli outbreak in Iowa late last year, according to a notice posted by the agency this week.

“Jimmy John’s restaurants have been implicated in multiple outbreaks that have spanned the past seven years and impacted consumers in no fewer than 17 states,” Frank Yiannas, the FDA's deputy commissioner for food policy and response, said in a statement Tuesday.

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E Coli and salmonella have the potential to cause serious illness, and although most healthy adults can recover within a week, the FDA says some people can develop a form of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome.

The FDA noted that in December 2019, amid one of the five outbreaks, Inspire Brands destroyed recalled sprouts in all of the Iowa Jimmy John’s restaurants, and implemented additional, one-time cleaning and sanitation at those locations.

However, the FDA said neither Jimmy John's or Inspire Brands "proposed any corrective actions to prevent these, or other Jimmy John’s restaurants, from receiving adulterated produce, specifically sprouts."

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Jimmy John’s President James North told FOX Business in an emailed statement that as of Monday, sprouts were no longer being served at any of the company's locations nationwide.

“Food safety is our top priority," North said. "Sprouts present particular challenges, given our unwavering commitment to world-class food safety standards. Therefore, we made the decision to permanently remove sprouts from all restaurants and acted swiftly to do so."

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Jimmy John's has 15 days to respond to the FDA warning detailing what it is doing to address the violation.

"Failure to promptly correct these violations may result in enforcement action by FDA without further notice, including seizure and/or injunction," the FDA notice reads.

The agency also issued a warning letter to Sprouts Unlimited Wholesale Foods for supplying sprouts to Jimmy John’s locations. The FDA says the vegetables sickened 22 people in Iowa from November and December of last year.

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