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article imageCucumbers at Jimmy John's blamed for E. coli outbreak in Denver

By Megan Hamilton     Dec 11, 2014 in Health
Denver - It took a year of detective work, but authorities have finally tracked down the cause of an E. coli outbreak last year at Jimmy John's restaurants in Colorado. Cucumbers, it turns out, are the guilty party.
Jimmy John's was using the cukes, brought in from Mexico, for salads and sandwiches, Consumerist reports.
This isn't the first time that the restaurant chain has had problems with food-borne illness. Raw veggies used for sandwich toppings — such as sprouts and lettuce — have caused problems as well, and there have been five separate outbreaks related to bean sprouts since 2008.
The investigation was conducted by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) along with several local public health departments in the Denver area, Food Safety News reports. Nine infections resulted from the tainted sandwiches, which were bought at Jimmy John's outlets in Littleton, Lakewood, and Glendale. Laboratory tests were conducted on eight of the cases and then confirmed as E. coli O157:H7. The ninth case was considered a probable infection and included in the outbreak.
Consumerist notes that authorities were able to link the cukes that were distributed to the chain as well as each of the individual restaurants back to the same batch at the same source by testing stool samples from eight cases. By doing this, researchers were able to determine that the same strain of E. coli was involved each time.
"To our knowledge, this is the first E. coli O157:H7 outbreak associated with cucumbers reported in the United States," the investigative report stated, per Food Safety News. It went on to say that public health and food safety officials should be aware that cucumbers may be contaminated with this form of E. coli and could cause sporadic infections and outbreaks.
The danger had passed by the time that investigators were able to confirm the source, but it alerted them to the fact that sliced cucumbers on a sandwich can be a vector for infecting victims with E. coli.
One of the people victimized by E. coli is now being represented by attorneys in Seattle, The Packer reports.
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