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  1. Outbreaks of Foodborne Illness

Outbreak Investigation of E. coli O103: Clover Sprouts (February 2020)

FDA’s investigation is complete. CDC declares outbreak over.

FDA, along with CDC and state and local partners, investigated an outbreak of 51 illnesses caused by E. coli O103 in Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, New York, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wyoming linked to clover sprouts.

Recommendations

Chicago Indoor Garden recalled all products containing Red Clover sprouts. FDA recommends that consumers not eat the following recalled items with “Best By” dates between 12/1/2019 and 3/12/2020 that were distributed to Coosemans Chicago Inc., Battaglia Distributing, Living Waters Farms, and Whole Foods throughout the Midwest:

  • Red Clover 4oz. clamshell
  • Red Clover 2lb. boxes
  • Sprout Salad 6oz. clamshell
  • Mixed Greens 4oz. clamshell
  • Spring Salad 6oz. clamshell

Recalled products are now past their “Best By” dates and should be thrown away.

Raw and lightly cooked sprouts are a known source of foodborne illness. We recommend that consumers, restaurants, and other retailers always follow food safety practices to avoid illness from eating sprouts. Generally, it is recommended that children, the elderly, pregnant women, and persons with weakened immune systems should avoid eating raw sprouts of any kind.

Investigation Update

April 22, 2020

FDA’s investigation is now complete, and CDC has declared this outbreak over.

The FDA's analysis of a sample of Chicago Indoor Garden’s sprouts identified the presence of E. coli O103. Whole Genome Sequencing of this bacteria showed that it matches the current outbreak strain. The sample also matches the outbreak strain from the November-December 2019 outbreak in Iowa, which was associated with sprouts from various Jimmy John’s restaurants.

Previous Updates


Product Images

Chicago Clover Sprouts

(PDF: 849 KB)


Case Counts

Total Illnesses: 51
Hospitalizations: 3
Deaths: 0
Last illness onset: March 15, 2020
States with Cases: FL (1), ID (1) IA (3), IL (7), MO (1), NY (1), TX (1) UT (34), VA (1), WY (1)


Previous Updates

March 19, 2020

FDA, along with CDC and state and local partners, are investigating an outbreak of 39 illnesses caused by E. coli O103 in Florida, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Texas and Utah linked to clover sprouts..

The FDA's analysis of a sample of Chicago Indoor Garden’s sprouts identified the presence of E. coli O103. Whole Genome Sequencing of this bacteria showed that it matches the current outbreak strain. The sample also matches the outbreak strain from the November-December 2019 outbreak in Iowa, which was associated with sprouts from various Jimmy John’s restaurants.

CDC reported on February 26, 2020 that the epidemiologic evidence indicates that clover sprouts from Jimmy John’s restaurants are a likely source of the illnesses that have occurred since January 2020.

On February 24, 2020, Jimmy John’s had reported to FDA that they had removed sprouts from all of their restaurants.

Subsequently, an FDA traceback investigation has shown that a common seed lot was used to grow the sprouts recalled by Chicago Indoor Garden and sprouts served at some Jimmy John’s locations during this outbreak and the outbreak in 2019.

As the outbreak investigation progresses, the FDA will continue in its traceback investigation to determine where implicated sprouts and seeds have been distributed. FDA and CDC will continue monitoring for additional illnesses associated with this outbreak.

March 13, 2020

FDA, along with CDC and state and local partners, are investigating an outbreak of 14 illnesses caused by E. coli O103 in Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Texas and Utah likely linked to clover sprouts.

The FDA's analysis of a sample of Chicago Indoor Garden’s product identified the presence of E. coli O103. Whole Genome Sequencing of this bacteria showed that it matches the outbreak strain.

As the outbreak investigation progresses, the FDA will continue in its traceback investigation to determine where implicated sprouts have been distributed and will continue monitoring for additional illnesses associated with this outbreak.

February 26, 2020

FDA, along with CDC and state and local partners, are investigating an outbreak of 14 illnesses caused by E. coli O103 in Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Texas and Utah. CDC reported on February 26 that the epidemiologic evidence indicates that clover sprouts from Jimmy John’s restaurants are a likely source of this outbreak. 

On February 21, 2020, the FDA issued a warning letter to Jimmy John’s Franchise LLC for engaging in a pattern of receiving and offering for sale adulterated fresh produce, specifically clover sprouts and cucumbers. On February 24, 2020, Jimmy John’s reported to FDA that they had removed sprouts from all of their restaurants.

The warning letter lays out evidence from five outbreaks, including recent outbreaks in the state of Iowa during November and December 2019, of human infections with Escherichia coli O103, a Shiga toxin producing Escherichia coli (STEC) linked to sprouts.

These 14 illnesses are new and are not associated with the outbreaks mentioned in the Jimmy Johns warning letter. FDA will continue its investigation and provide updates as more information becomes available.


Who to Contact

Consumers who have symptoms should contact their health care provider to report their symptoms and receive care.

To report a complaint or adverse event (illness or serious allergic reaction), you can

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