Alfalfa sprouts grown in Illinois have sickened at least 112 people in 18 states with salmonella since Nov. 2010, and many of those sick ate the sprouts on Jimmy John’s sandwiches.
On Jan. 3, 2011, in a separate outbreak, health officials fingered clover sprouts produced by Sprouters Northwest, Inc. of Kent, Wash. as the source of a separate salmonella outbreak that has sickened three in Oregon and four in Washington. Once again, the vehicle in at least some of the illnesses was Jimmy John’s sandwiches with sprouts.
In mid-Jan. 2011, John Liautaud, the owner of the Jimmy John’s sandwich shop chain, said his restaurants will be replacing alfalfa sprouts with allegedly easier-cleaned clover sprouts, effective immediately.
Mr. Liautaud, perhaps you should inspect your suppliers. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration did that at the Sprouter’s Northwest facility and found:
• failure to take necessary precautions to protect against contamination of food and food contact surfaces with microorganisms and foreign substances;
• failure to clean food-contact surfaces as frequently as necessary to protect against contamination of food;
• failure to clean non-food-contact surfaces of equipment as frequently as necessary to protect against contamination;
• effective measures not being taken to protect against contamination of food on the premises by pests;
• failure to properly store equipment, remove litter and waste, and cut weeds or grass that may constitute an attractant, breeding place or harborage area for pests, within the immediate vicinity of the plant, building, or structures;
• failure to maintain buildings, fixtures, or other physical structures in a sanitary condition;
• failure to hold raw materials in bulk or suitable containers so as to protect against contamination; and,
• failure to maintain buildings and physical facilities in repair sufficient to prevent food from becoming adulterated.
The original table of North American raw sprout-related outbreaks is available at http://bites.ksu.edu/sprout-associated-outbreaks-north-america-1990-2009.