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Jimmy John’s sandwich chain warned by FDA about serving “adulterated fresh produce” after several e coli outbreaks including one in Iowa

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Jimmy John’s sandwich chain was warned today by the Food and Drug Administration about serving “adulterated fresh produce” after several e coli outbreaks, including one in Iowa.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local partners, have collaboratively investigated several outbreaks linked to Jimmy John’s restaurants, the agency said today in a public letter. In this letter they detail evidence from five outbreaks, including the most recent outbreak in the state of Iowa during December 2019 of human infections with Escherichia coli O103. The evidence demonstrates that Jimmy John’s corporation, through franchised Jimmy John’s restaurants, engaged in a pattern of receiving and offering for sale adulterated fresh produce, specifically clover sprouts and cucumbers.

The letter also reads: “The pathogens associated with these outbreaks are Shiga toxin producing Escherichia coli (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 elderly, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy individuals may suffer short-term symptoms such as severe diarrhea, bloody diarrhea, fever, chills, abdominal discomfort, and vomiting. The presence of these pathogens in your food, as evidenced by links to foodborne outbreaks, causes your products to be adulterated within the meaning of section 402(a)(1) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the Act)[21 U.S.C. § 342(a)(1)] in that they bear or contain an added poisonous or deleterious substance which may render them injurious to health. The introduction or delivery for introduction into interstate commerce of food that is adulterated is a prohibited act under section 301(a) of the Act [21 U.S.C. 331(a)]. Further, receipt in interstate commerce of adulterated food is a prohibited act under section 301(c) of the Act [21 U.S.C. § 331(c)].”

Jimmy John’s has 15 days to respond to the FDA and address the alleged violations.

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