The Food and Drug Administration is investigating a multi-state outbreak of Salmonella infections that have been linked to sprouts served at Jimmy John's restaurants across the country. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that eight people have been infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Montevideo in Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Of the eight people, seven ate meals at Jimmy John's restaurants in Illinois and Wisconsin the week before coming ill, and all seven reported having sandwiches with raw sprouts on them.
From testing done at one of the locations, the clinical isolates have the same DNA fingerprint as the strain, according to the FDA. The CDC notified the FDA of the illness outbreaks on January 16, 2018, and by January 18, 2018, Jimmy John's had issued an order to remove the raw sprouts from menus nationwide. The CDC and FDA issued a joint warning on January 19, 2018, advising customers at Jimmy John's locations in Illinois and Wisconsin to avoid raw alfalfa sprouts as part of a health risk.
James North, President and CEO of Jimmy John's, said in a press release of the foodborne illness and increased risk,
"Food safety and the welfare of our customers are our top priorities and not negotiable in our business. 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."
Jimmy John's believes that the sprouts purchased from two sprout growers in Minnesota are likely linked to the case. Most people infected with Salmonella develop fever, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea about 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness typically lasts 4 to 7 days, and most people don't need treatment to recover. Of those infected already at the sandwich chain, they range in age from 26 to 50 and are all females. There have been no hospitalizations or deaths reported in this round of foodborne outbreaks.
While health officials are still holding traceback investigations to determine where the sprouts were distributed, they are also trying to trace a route of contamination. For now, the CDC will keep the public updated as more information becomes available.