This time, the raw clover sprouts come from an Idaho producer, Evergreen Fresh Sprouts, LLC. Sprouts, including many types such as alfalfa, bean, or clover, have been linked to outbreaks of food borne pathogens such as salmonella and E. coli many times in the past. And Jimmy John’s has been at the center of a number of outbreaks. So it is no surprise to food safety experts that once again Jimmy John’s finds itself at the center of an outbreak with at least 10 victims of E. coli O121. Five of the victims are from Spokane, Washington, in the far East of the state, two are in King County (Seattle and Bellevue area), and three in Kootenai County, Idaho.
So far, only Washington and Idaho have reported victims in this E. coli O121 outbreak.
According to reports from state health officials, the raw clover sprouts were served at Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwich shops in King and Spokane Counties; Jimmy John’s in Kootenai County Idaho; and Pita Pit locations in Spokane County. Sprouts have been taken of the menu at these locations. In King County, the victims ate at the Jimmy John’s at 15253 Bel-Red Road in Bellevue.
Evergreen Fresh Sprouts Owner Denies Fault
The owner of Evergreen Fresh Sprouts, David Scharf, has gone on record stating that there is not proof that his product is to blame in these illnesses. In fact, Scharf stated to a local KIRO reporter, “I almost wish they wouldn’t run anything until they get the results back. Because why would you look like an idiot, if there’s nothing wrong with the product?”
Ron Simon, a national food safety attorney, disagrees with Mr. Scharf’s assessemnt. “These owners often want product that is currently at their facility to test positive before they will admit that their product is a fault, but that is not necessary. Produce has a short shelf-life, and by the time an outbreak is identified, often the product is no longer at the facility. In these cases, we rely on sophisticated trace-back investigations that can determine, in the absence of a positive on-site test, where that product originated.”