Update: Clover Sprouts E. coli Outbreak 0103
Following the E. coli outbreak 0103 in Jimmy John’s clover sprouts, more cases have been found of food poisoning due to E. coli in clover sprouts. The contaminated clover sprouts used by Jimmy John’s LLC have been traced to Chicago Indoor Garden, announced the FDA on March 19, 2020. It has been confirmed Jimmy John’s and Chicago Indoor Garden used the same batch of clover sprouts seeds, though the seed producer has not been named. The FDA is continuing to investigate further cases of contamination due to the same seed batch of clover sprouts. While Jimmy John’s stopped usage of clover sprouts on February 24, 2020, outbreaks of E. coli food poisoning from clover sprouts have continued. Specifically, the latest outbreak was reported on March 17, 2020 in six states: FL, IL, IA, MO, TX, and UT. The total number of cases has risen from 14 to 39 cases, between February 26, 2020, and March 17, 2020, with 27 of the cases hailing from Utah. Chicago Indoor Garden recalled all of their products containing red clover sprouts as of March 16, 2020. With a “Best By” date of March 12, 2020, Chicago Indoor Garden is recalling the following products: Red Clover 4 oz. clamshell, Red Clover 2 lb. boxes, Sprout Salad 6 oz. clamshell, Mixed Greens 4 oz. clamshell, and Spring Salad 6 oz. clamshell. If you have purchased any of these products, dispose of them immediately and do not consume. Further precautionary methods can be taken by throughly cleaning your refrigerator.
Sprouts are at high risk for food poisoning because the moist and warm temperatures used to grow them are ideal for harmful bacteria, such as Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria. In addition, they are difficult to clean and nearly always served raw.
When considering sprouts, although counter intuitive, it is best to confirm they are not raw and have been thoroughly cooked to destroy any bacteria that may cause food poisoning. Since the vast majority of sprouts are eaten on sandwiches or in salads, for most people this will mean simply removing them from their diet.
E. coli infections begin 2-8 days of consumption, and symptoms are generally consistent with food poisoning: stomach cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting with a low grade fever. If you suspect that you have ingested E. coli, consult your physician on being tested. Those with lowered immune systems, such as the elderly, children, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems, are more at risk for E. coli infections.