Last week, it was announced that Illinois health officals were investigating an outbreak of Salmonella linked to consumption of sprouts at Jimmy John’s restaurants in that state.   As was speculated here on Food Poison Journal, the outbreak has now been linked by the CDC to a multistate outbreak linked to sprouts.  The implicated strain is Salmonella serotype 1 4, [5], 12:i:-.  Here is a portion of the CDC announcement:

CDC is collaborating with public health officials in many states and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate a multistate outbreak of Salmonella serotype I 4,[5],12:i:- infections. Investigators are using DNA analysis of Salmonella bacteria obtained through diagnostic testing to identify cases of illness that may be part of this outbreak.

From November 1 to December 21, 2010, a total of 89 individuals with a matching strain of Salmonella serotype I 4,[5],12:i:- have been reported from 15 states and the District of Columbia. The number of ill people identified in each state with the outbreak strain is as follows: Connecticut (1), District of Columbia (1), Georgia (1), Hawaii (1), Iowa (1), Illinois (50), Indiana (9), Massachusetts (1), Missouri (14), New York (1), Pennsylvania (2), South Dakota (1), Tennessee (1), Texas (1), Virginia (1), and Wisconsin (3). Among 81 persons for whom information is available, illness onset dates range from November 1 to December 14, 2010… Among persons with available information, 23% reported being hospitalized.

The CDC noted the fact that foodborne illness outbreaks linked to sprouts are a common recurrence:

Since 1996, there have been at least 30 reported outbreaks of foodborne illness associated with different types of raw and lightly cooked sprouts. Most of these outbreaks were caused by Salmonella and E. coli.

30 outbreaks in 14 years is quite a track record.  Is there hope for improvement?