The founder of Jimmy John’s says the restaurant chain will use clover sprouts on sandwiches, a response to the multistate outbreak of Salmonella linked to alfalfa sprouts that has sickened as many as 112 people.
“We are making the switch immediately in our corporate-owned stores and recommending all franchisees make the switch too because we believe it may decrease the chance for contamination,” Jimmy John Liautaud said this week in a news release.
Liautaud’s rationale for the switch: Clover sprout seeds are smoother, and thus easier to clean.
However, clover sprouts supplied to Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwich restaurants in the Pacific Northwest were recalled earlier this month after health authorities in Oregon and Washington linked them to seven Salmonella infections in a separate outbreak.
Tiny Greens Organic Farm in Illinois supplied the alfalfa sprouts implicated in the Midwest outbreak. Sprouters Northwest in Washington state supplied the clover sprouts associated with the outbreak in the Pacific Northwest. Both growers and Liautaud say their sprouts have not conclusively been shown to be the source of the outbreaks, while the public health investigators cite an epidemiological link.
Sprouts have been repeatedly identified as the cause of salmonellosis outbreaks and E. coli O157:H7 infections, and have been responsible for at least 40 outbreaks of foodborne illness in the U.S. in the past 20 years. The FDA says the problem typically is due to contaminated seeds.
Jimmy John’s sandwiches have been associated with four sprout outbreaks in the last two years.