Thursday, December 7, 2023

Jimmy John’s pulls sprouts nationwide, FDA has warned of bacteria risk for decades

The Jimmy John's company has pulled raw sprouts off its menus nationwide, including Wilmington and other North Carolina locations. (Port City Daily photo | JIMMY JOHN'S)
The Jimmy John’s company has pulled raw sprouts off its menus nationwide, including Wilmington and other North Carolina locations. (Port City Daily photo / JIMMY JOHN’S)

WILMINGTON — The Jimmy John’s sandwich franchise is pulling raw sprouts from all of its franchise locations, including those in Wilmington.

After a salmonella outbreak affecting at least seven people in Wisconsin and Illinois was linked to two of Jimmy John’s growers in Minnesota, the chain made the decision to pull sprouts from its nearly 3,000 nationwide locations.

James North, President and CEO of Jimmy John’s, called the move a “temporary measure” in response to concerns voiced by the CDC and FDA. According to the FDA, the area of concern was limited to Illinois and Wisconsin; however, North chose to pull raw sprouts from all menus, saying in a statement,“food safety and the welfare of our customers are top priorities and not negotiable in our business.”

This is not the first bacterial outbreak linked to raw sprouts. According to the FDA, there have been at least 30 outbreaks – mostly of Salmonella and E. coli bacteria – since 1996, approximately one every year.

The FDA considers sprouts to pose a higher risk of bacterial infection than most other fruits and vegetables. According to the FDA, “Unlike other fresh produce, seeds and beans need warm and humid conditions to sprout and grow. These conditions are also ideal for the growth of bacteria, including Salmonella, Listeria, and E. coli.”

According to the FDA, the warm and humid conditions that encourage the growth of sprouts are also ideal for bacteria, this has led to at least 30 outbreaks since 1996. (Port City Daily photo | FILE PHOTO)
According to the FDA, the warm and humid conditions that encourage the growth of sprouts are also ideal for bacteria, this has led to at least 30 outbreaks since 1996. (Port City Daily photo / FILE PHOTO)

In 1999, the FDA created specific guidance for sprout growers in attempt to reduce the risk of outbreaks. The FDA continues to issue the following warning for consumers of sprouts:

  • Children, the elderly, pregnant women, and persons with weakened immune systems should avoid eating raw sprouts of any kind (including alfalfa, clover, radish, and mung bean sprouts).
  • Cook sprouts thoroughly to reduce the risk of illness. Cooking kills the harmful bacteria.
  • Request that raw sprouts not be added to your food. If you purchase a sandwich or salad at a restaurant or delicatessen, check to make sure that raw sprouts have not been added.

 

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