Citing food safety concerns, national restaurant chain Jason’s Deli has announced it will not serve sprouts in its 230 locations for the remainder of 2012 and possibly 2013. The announcement, reported by The Packer’s Mike Hornick on Tuesday, follows years of recalls and foodborne illness outbreaks associated with sprouts from alfalfa, beans, clover and other produce.
Since 2000, sprouts have been linked to 30 foodborne illness outbreaks in North America, Europe and Australia, including the summer 2011 outbreak of E. coli O104:H4 that sickened 4,321 people and killed 50.
According to the Packer article, Jason’s Deli locations in Texas and New Mexico have already removed sprouts from their menus in response to a December 2011 voluntary recall of alfalfa and onion sprouts by Green Valley. All Jason’s Deli locations, found in 26 other states, will stop serving sprouts by April.
The chain plans to fill the sprout void with organic spinach and salad greens.
The public relations director for Jason’s Deli told The Packer that the chain considered dropping sprouts in 2011, but ultimately decided to hold off. Continual sprout-related concerns, however, like the European E. coli outbreak and multiple 2011 recalls, eventually convinced the chain that the ingredient was currently not worth the risk.
In late 2010, sprouts served at national deli chain Jimmy John’s sickened at least 140 people with Salmonella.