Illinois Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Jimmy John’s Restaurants

A <"">Salmonella outbreak in Illinois has been linked to alfalfa sprouts served at Jimmy John’s sandwich restaurants. As of December 17, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported that 46 residents have become ill with the same Salmonella serotype since November. Some of those sickened reported eating alfalfa sprouts at Jimmy John’s in nine Illinois counties: Adams, Champaign, Cook, Kankakee, McHenry, McLean, Peoria, Will and Winnebago.

According to a statement, the Illinois Department of Public Health is investigating alfalfa sprout producers and suppliers. Produce testing for Salmonella is ongoing.

Symptoms of Salmonellosis (illness caused by Salmonella bacteria) include diarrhea, vomiting, fever and/or stomach cramps. Illness usually develops within six to 72 hours after being exposed to Salmonella bacteria and generally lasts three to seven days. Some individuals who are infected may have no symptoms at all but may still transmit the Salmonella bacteria to others. The spread of Salmonella from person to person may be avoided by careful hand washing with soap and water, particularly after using the restroom.

The Illinois Department of Public Health advises that anyone who has eaten alfalfa sprouts and becomes ill with diarrhea and fever to call a physician and their local health department.

As we’ve reported in the past, sprouts present a unique food poisoning challenge in that they can become tainted prior to harvesting, when growing. The conditions required for sprout growing are optimal for growing pathogens: Bacteria need the right temperature, nutrients, and water and sprouts grow in watery, warm environments, ideal for rapid bacterial growth. Because sprouts are often eaten raw with no additional treatment, such as cooking, which eliminates bacteria, washing sprouts does not necessarily remove bacteria because bacteria grow within the sprouts and cannot be washed away.

In May, Caldwell Fresh Foods, Maywood, Calif., recalled alfalfa sprouts. after more than two dozen people in 10 states had been sickened with the same strain of Salmonella, according to a report on Other companies recalled sprouts in July, August and October after testing confirmed Salmonella or Listeria contamination, but illnesses were not linked to those cases.

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