Today the U.S. Food and Drug Administration posted a warning letter issued to Jimmy John’s Franchise LLC for engaging in a pattern of receiving and offering for sale adulterated fresh produce, specifically clover sprouts and cucumbers. The FDA also posted a warning letter to Sprouts Unlimited Wholesale Foods for supplying sprouts to Jimmy John’s which sickened 22 people in November and December 2019.
The FDA, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state and local partners, have collaboratively investigated several outbreaks linked to Jimmy John’s restaurants. The warning letter lays out evidence from five outbreaks, including the most recent outbreak in the state of Iowa during November and December 2019, of human infections with Escherichia coli O103, a Shiga toxin producing Escherichia coli (STEC).
The pathogens associated with these outbreaks are STECs and Salmonella enterica. STECs can cause serious illness in humans, including diarrhea, often with bloody stools. Although most healthy adults can recover completely within a week, some people can develop a form of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). HUS is most likely to occur in young children and the elderly. This condition can lead to serious kidney damage and death. Salmonella is a pathogenic bacterium that can cause serious, sometimes fatal, infections. These infections can be especially serious in young children.
The FDA is currently developing a Strategic Blueprint that will outline how the agency plans to leverage technology and other tools, to create a more digital, traceable and safer food system. This work will build on the advances that have been and are being made in the FDA’s implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act to further strengthen prevention of foodborne illnesses.