Health officials have asked Jimmy John’s to pull alfalfa sprouts from the menus of its Illinois restaurants because of suspicions the sandwich garnish was the cause of several salmonella poisonings in December.
The Illinois Department of Public Health has also advised the chain to send home any food handler who is suffering from diarrhea, a telltale symptom of a salmonella infection.
The IDPH indicated in a statement jointly issued with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that sprouts served at multiple Jimmy John’s units were believed to be the cause of a cluster of salmonella cases detected in multiple states. Two of the victims were Illinois residents. The conclusion is based on contacts with suppliers and a review of what the victims ate, the statement said.
Jimmy John’s did not respond to requests for an indication of whether it intends to comply.
The instances of contamination happened on Dec. 20 and Dec. 26, according to the authorities.
Sprouts have been a persistent food safety problem for Jimmy John’s, with contaminations recorded in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012, according to media reports.
In 2014, customers placing online orders with the fast-casual chain were reportedly required to click a button agreeing to accept the health risks if they wanted sprouts as a garnish.
Sprouts were off the menu for two years after the 2012 contaminations. The situation led to a class-action lawsuit against Jimmy John’s for false advertising. Customers complained that promotional and advertising materials for the chain still indicated sprouts were used on sandwiches, even after they had been yanked.
Jimmy John’s agreed to provide vouchers worth $1.40 to any participant in the class action who had purchased one of six sandwiches over about a 16-month stretch.