The restaurant chain has been implicated in multiple outbreaks from the past seven years, according to the FDA

By Gabrielle Chung
February 25, 2020 09:49 PM
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Certain vegetables served by Jimmy John’s have been linked to multiple cases of E. Coli and Salmonella spanning the past seven years, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

On Tuesday, the federal agency issued a warning letter against the sandwich chain for selling produce that were implicated in five outbreaks of E. coli or salmonella dating back to 2012.

“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,” FDA Deputy Commissioner Frank Yiannas said in a news release. “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.”

In the letter, the FDA summarized evidence linking Jimmy John’s to illness cases in Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, Idaho, Montana, Michigan, Utah, California, Washington and Colorado and accused the restaurant franchise of engaging “in a pattern of receiving and offering for sale adulterated fresh produce, specifically clover sprouts and cucumbers.”

The FDA found the “corporate-wide supplier control mechanisms” for receiving produce at Jimmy John’s and its parent company, Inspire Brands, to be “inadequate,” the letter said.

“In your response to this letter, please describe and document steps you have or will take to prevent the receipt and sale of adulterated food at each of the approximately 2,800 Jimmy John’s restaurants,” the warning read.

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The FDA also issued a warning letter to Sprouts Unlimited Wholesale Foods for supplying “adulterated” sprouts to Jimmy John’s on Tuesday. In that letter, the agency claimed the sprouts — which they determined to “contain an added poisonous or deleterious substance which may render them injurious to health” — sickened 22 people in 2019.

Jimmy John’s has since announced that the chain will be removing sprouts from all its locations until further notice.

“Food safety is our top priority,” Jimmy John’s president James North told PEOPLE in a statement. “We’ve removed sprouts from all Jimmy John’s restaurants until further notice. This removal was out of an abundance of caution and was not initiated by any known, immediate threat.”