Jimmy Johns Stung Again by Sprouts

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. —  Jimmy Johns may have to rethink the sprouts it splashes on its sandwiches.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says raw clover sprouts from Jimmy John’s are linked to 12 cases of e-coli poisoning in five states, including Missouri and Kansas. The illnesses occurred between Dec. 25 and Jan. 15 and two of the victims were hospitalized.

In most sprout outbreaks the sprouts come to the restaurant already contaminated and the restaurant is not to blame for the contamination itself. Contamination usually happens when the seeds are grown or harvested and the bacteria is impossible to wash off.

USA Today reports that the outbreak comes a year after raw alfalfa sprouts from one of the chain’s suppliers were linked to 140 salmonella illnesses. Sprouts from the chain’s suppliers were also linked to a 2009 salmonella outbreak in several Midwestern states and were suspected in an E. coli outbreak in Boulder, Colo. in 2008.

Jimmy John’s, based in Illinois, switched from using alfalfa sprouts to using clover sprouts because they are easier to clean. But the CDC warns all raw sprouts need warm and humid conditions to grow which encourages bacterial growth. Many restaurants have stopped serving them because of this.

The government recommends that the very young, elderly, pregnant and others with compromised immune systems stay away from raw sprouts completely although cooked sprouts are safe to eat.

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