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Claims you can bring under the NJ Products Liability Act for food contamination or E. coli at restaurants

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Louisa T. Chen
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If you enjoy a sandwich from Jimmy John's as I do, you will know that one of the main toppings on the sandwiches are sprouts. Did you know that various patrons of the popular sandwich shop in Wisconsin, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Michigan have been plagued with illnesses due to E.coli contamination in the raw clover sprouts? The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concluded in a report that "[p]reliminary results of the epidemiologic and traceback investigations indicate eating raw clover sprouts at Jimmy John's restaurants is the likely cause of this outbreak." Presently, no other grocery stores or other restaurants are associated with the outbreak. There have been no reports of E. coli outbreaks in Pennsylvania or New Jersey.

What is surprising is that this is not the first time Jimmy John's has been associated with a foodborne illness outbreak. There have been multiple previous outbreaks.

  • 2008: at least 19 cases were linked to alfalfa sprouts contaminated with E. coli in Colorado;
  • 2009: 228 people were plagued with illnesses after eating sprouts contaminated with Salmonella in Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota and Kansas;
  • 2010: 94 people became ill after eating alfalfa and spicy sprouts contaminated with Salmonella in 16 different states.

The company switched from alfalfa sprouts to clover sprouts following the above outbreaks. However, sprouts are considered a type of food with higher food safety risks. Washing the sprouts does not eliminate E. coli and Salmonella. Since 1990, sprouts have been linked to at least 40 foodborne illness outbreaks. If there were previous outbreaks due to contaminated sprouts, why would Jimmy Johns continue to put them in the sandwiches after consecutive outbreaks in previous years? It appears that there may be a basis for awarding punitive damages to the victims. Other claims include pain and suffering or manufacturing defect claims.

To find out about other types of claims and the New Jersey Products Liability Act, please see "New Jersey Products Liability Legal Article: Is Food a Product Under the New Jersey Products Liability Act?" If you or a loved one was seriously injured by a food product in the New Jersey or Pennsylvania areas, call our personal injury and product liability lawyers. Our firm spares no expense in the investigation and prosecution of these cases. Our lawyers will provide answers to all of your questions and advise you on how to proceed. 877.944.8396.

Category: Dangerous Products Cases

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