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Store takes proactive approach, pulls sprouts

February 23, 2012

PLYMOUTH — Jimmy John’s in Plymouth took a precautionary step by pulling spouts from its sandwich offerings many months ago. Reports of outbreaks of salmonella and E.coli in 2010-11 in other areas lead to the action.
But as recently as a week ago, new outbreaks of E.coli have been verified in neighboring states including some in Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas and Wisconsin. A Jimmy John’s E.coli outbreak affecting some 12 people was in the news last week following a statement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warning against eating raw sprouts. Investigators believe the newest outbreak can be traced back to raw clover sprouts served in some Jimmy John’s restaurants.
Local Jimmy John’s Manager Rob Martin said the company took the precaution of discontinuing the use of spouts at the advice of their corporate business coach. Martin said he had been supplied with sprouts through a produce company based in Indianapolis; however, he said he is not sure from whom that distributor had purchased the product.
“We have had no issues,” he said. “This was just proactive.”
A federal investigation by health inspectors indicated that there was a link to those becoming ill after eating at Tiny Greens Alfalfa Sprouts or Spicy Sprouts at Jimmy John’s restaurant outlets.
Investigators verified at least 140 cases beginning in November, 2010. Seventy of the 140 cases were in Illinois, the state where Jimmy John’s and Tiny Greens are based. Other cases were reported to health authorities in Missouri, Indiana and Wisconsin.
In January, 2011, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a complaint in U.S. District Court seeking a permanent injunction against the Vegi-Pak Park, LLC of Maryland citing numerous sanitary violations. The company is denying that there have been any verified links of Salmonella of E.coli back to their plant. However, the plant has been shut down after health inspectors cited a number of unsanitary practices in their processing. Violations noted at the time included, but were not limited to, equipment coated in food waste; fly infestation inside the facility; and employees who were not adequately washing and cleaning the soybeans.
Bean sprouts are cultivated with heat and moisture. Those conditions make the spouts susceptible to contaminations.
People with no known health problems, who are infected with salmonella, can experience fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. Although rare, salmonella infection can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and leading to major complications.

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