Metro-East News

Don’t eat those sprouts on your Jimmy John’s sub. They could have salmonella.

State health officials have warned Jimmy John’s customers to avoid eating sprouts the restaurant chain puts on its sub sandwiches after two Illinois residents became ill with a salmonella infection.

The two Illinois residents became ill on Dec. 20 and 26, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health, after eating at multiple Jimmy John’s restaurants in northeastern Illinois.

Investigators with the state health department along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration, reviewed produce, suppliers and items consumed at the restaurants. They determined the sprouts were the most likely culprit.

The health department requested all Jimmy John’s locations in Illinois remove sprouts from their menus until the investigation is complete.

“These restaurants typically use produce grown in the region. Because these are franchises, sprouts may be from different producers so we are casting a wide net,” said Melaney Arnold, spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Jimmy John’s said in a statement it directed all restaurants chainwide to stop serving sprouts while it investigates complaints in Illinois as well as Wisconsin.

The sprouts possibly came from two growers in Minnesota, the company’s statement indicated.

“Food safety and the welfare of our customers are our top priorities and not negotiable in our business,” James North, president and CEO, said in a statement. “We have been working closely with the Departments of Health in Illinois and Wisconsin, as well as their federal counterparts, as they investigate the claims. While the results of the investigation are not conclusive and we are still gathering more information, we have voluntarily directed all franchisees to remove sprouts as a precautionary measure from all supply and distribution.”

As the investigation continues, the health department said food handlers with diarrhea should not be allowed to work.

Anyone with symptoms of a salmonella infection after eating at a Jimmy John’s location can contact their local doctor or health department.

Symptoms of salmonella infection can include headache, muscle aches, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal cramping, chills, fever, nausea and dehydration. Symptoms usually appear six to 72 hours after eating the tainted food, but symptoms can appear later, as well.

Most salmonella-related illnesses resolve on their own and do not require treatment other than drinking plenty of fluid to stay hydrated, but if symptoms persist or are severe, a health care provider should be consulted, the health department said.

Salmonella bacteria live in the intestinal tracts of humans and animals, according to the health department. Almost any food can be contaminated, but the bacteria can be transmitted from person-to-person through unwashed hands, contamination during food preparation or direct contact with an infected person.

Kelsey Landis: 618-239-2110, @kelseylandis