Officials: E. coli outbreak from produce served at 3 metro Denver Jimmy John’s
DENVER — The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the CDC and the FDA are all investigating an E. coli outbreak in the Denver metropolitan area, Colorado’s Own Channel 2 learned exclusively.
In the second week of October three Jimmy John’s restaurants in the Denver Metro area reportedly served up sandwiches that sickened eight people with E. coli bacteria.
“We believe that their illness came from a produce item that was on those sandwiches that they ate,” said Alicia Cronquit, epidemiologist with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
Cronquist said all eight cases were reported between October 18th and 22nd, and all of the people impacted ate at Jimmy John’s between October 7th and 15th.
The Department of Public Health has not closed down the three restaurants, and will not identify their locations because Cronquist says they do not believe the restaurants are at fault.
“Our leading hypothesis for what’s happened is that there was a contaminated produce item that was distributed to the stores,” Cronquist said. “We have not identified any food handling issues at the particular establishments that we think would contribute to illness.”
A local teenager is among those still hospitalized from the E. coli in Denver. Family friends reached out to Colorado’s Own Channel 2 looking for answers as to why the public had not been notified. We took that question to state health officials and they told us it’s because the tainted food no longer appears to be a threat.
“If we were to see additional cases that were potentially part of this outbreak, I think we would take different action,” Cronquist said.
The CDC confirms that no other strains of the E. coli bacteria have been reported in surrounding areas or states.
The Department of Public Health is now waiting on an investigation by the FDA tracing what produce might be to blame. The FDA won’t comment on open investigations, but Cronquist said it is extensive.
“They look at a lot of receipts and invoices and try to take it all the way back to the source to see which one of the food items came from the same source at all three restaurants,” she said.
State officials say that investigation is key to moving forward.
“We’re happy to notify the public when we know… when we know what the food item was for sure,” Cronquist said.
According to the Colorado Department of Public Health, the local Jimmy John’s restaurants and corporate representatives are concerned and have cooperated throughout the investigation.
When contacted by Colorado’s Own Channel 2 News a Jimmy John’s corporate representative declined to comment on the outbreak.