A multi-state outbreak of E. coli infections have been linked to raw clover sprouts at Jimmy John’s restaurants, but the Conway location has reported that sprouts are currently unavailable.

On Feb. 15, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the outbreak linked to clover sprouts that were used in sandwiches sold at Jimmy John’s restaurants, one of those reporting from Arkansas. At least 12 people have become ill in Iowa (5), Missouri (3), Kansas (2), Arkansas (1), and Wisconsin (1). Only two of those infected required hospitalization, and no deaths have been reported.

"We are not carrying any sprouts right now," said Adam Sholes, manager of the Conway Jimmy John’s, located on 317 Oak St. "We have not had any available for the past week, and I am in contact with our company to make sure we know exactly what is going on."

This is the fourth outbreak of sprout-related illness with the food chain, but it is the first in Arkansas. Jimmy John’s operates six locations in Arkansas, three in central Arkansas and three in northwest Arkansas.

In most sprout outbreaks the restaurant is not to blame for the contamination itself. Contamination usually happens when the seeds are grown or harvested and is often impossible to wash off.

Though they are often touted as a health food, sprouts need warm and humid conditions to grow, encouraging bacterial growth. Many restaurants have stopped serving them after multiple outbreaks, and the government recommends that the very young, elderly, pregnant and others with compromised immune systems stay away from raw sprouts completely. 

Fully cooked sprouts are safe to eat.

According to the CDC, there have been at least 30 outbreaks associated with raw or lightly cooked sprouts in the United States in the last 15 years and even more around the world, including a 1996 outbreak in Japan that sickened thousands of people with E. coli.