The late great Bill Keene predicted this when Jimmy John’s switched to clover sprouts.
An outbreak linked to raw sprouts in the U.S. that sickened 140 people occurred between November 2010 into 2011, involving sandwich franchise, Jimmy John’s. The owner of the Montana Jimmy John’s outlet, Dan Stevens, expressed confidence in his sprouts claiming that because the sprouts were locally grown they would not be contaminated, although the source of the contaminated sprouts had not yet been identified. By the end of December 2010 a sprout supplier, Tiny Greens Farm, was implicated in the outbreak. Jimmy John’s owner, John Liautaud, responded by stating the sandwich chain would replace alfalfa sprouts with clover sprouts since they were allegedly easier to clean. However, a week earlier a separate outbreak had been identified in Washington and Oregon in which eight people were infected with salmonella after eating sandwiches containing clover sprouts from a Jimmy John’s restaurant. This retailer was apparently not aware of the risks associated with sprouts, or even outbreaks associated with his franchisees.
Washington state health officials are warning consumers not to eat raw clover sprouts from an Idaho producer that have been linked to an outbreak of E. coli infections in the Northwest.
The sprouts have been linked to seven confirmed and three probable cases of E. coli O121 illnesses in Washington and Idaho.
Five of those patients were hospitalized; there have been no deaths.
Results from initial investigations indicate a strong link to eating raw clover sprouts produced by Evergreen Fresh Sprouts, LLC of Idaho.
Sprouts were eaten in sandwiches at several food establishments including Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches locations in King and Spokane counties, as well as two Pita Pit locations in Spokane County, and Daanen’s Deli as well as a Jimmy John’s location in Kootenai County.
The restaurants where the cases reported eating raw clover sprouts have voluntarily suspended serving sprouts.
The producer also distributed sprouts around the northwest to other restaurants, as well as retail grocery stores where consumers may buy them for home consumption.