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  1. FDA In Brief

FDA In Brief: FDA Issues Warning Letters to Jimmy John’s and a Sprout Distributor for Food Safety Violations

February 25, 2020

Media Inquiries

  Amanda Turney
  301-796-2969

The following quote is attributed to Frank Yiannas, Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response:

“The FDA is committed to protecting consumers from foodborne illness.

“Jimmy John’s restaurants have been implicated in multiple outbreaks that have spanned the past seven years and impacted consumers in no fewer than 17 states. Jimmy John’s has not demonstrated implementation of long-term sustainable corrections to its supply chain to assure the safety of ingredients used in its products.

“Americans expect the foods they consume to be safe. We will hold companies accountable when they do not take adequate measures to ensure the safety of the foods they provide.”

  • Today the U.S. Food and Drug Administration posted a warning letter issued 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. The FDA also posted a warning letter to Sprouts Unlimited Wholesale Foods for supplying sprouts to Jimmy John’s which sickened 22 people in November and December 2019.
  • The FDA, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state and local partners, have collaboratively investigated several outbreaks linked to Jimmy John’s restaurants. The warning letter lays out evidence from five outbreaks, including the most recent outbreak in the state of Iowa during November and December 2019, of human infections with Escherichia coli O103, a Shiga toxin producing Escherichia coli (STEC).
  • The pathogens associated with these outbreaks are STECs and Salmonella enterica. STECs can cause serious illness in humans, including diarrhea, often with bloody stools. Although most healthy adults can recover completely within a week, some people can develop a form of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). HUS is most likely to occur in young children and the elderly. This condition can lead to serious kidney damage and death. Salmonella is a pathogenic bacterium that can cause serious, sometimes fatal, infections. These infections can be especially serious in young children.
  • The FDA is currently developing a Strategic Blueprint that will outline how the agency plans to leverage technology and other tools, to create a more digital, traceable and safer food system. This work will build on the advances that have been and are being made in the FDA’s implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act to further strengthen prevention of foodborne illnesses.

The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.