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Foodborne illness Under Investigation-Jimmy Johns to Blame Again?

Posted in Our Blog,Outbreaks & Recalls on April 15, 2021

The McLean County Health Department has reported the possible foodborne illness. An undetermined number of ill individuals that have been contaminated and or hospitalized still remain unknown. Is there another Jimmy Johns food poisoning outbreak? Read all about it here.

About the Potential Jimmy Johns food poisoning outbreak

On Wednesday April 7, 2021, a probable foodborne illness outbreak occurred in the Bloomington-Normal area. The Illinois State University personnel first reported the outbreak due to symptoms consistent with food poisoning, which usually are:

  • Upset stomach
  • Stomach cramps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever

Marianne Manko, the health department’s public affairs representative, stated they have yet to determine the possible cause of illness or where it originated. However, a spokesperson for Jimmy John’s stated that out of “an abundance of caution” a Jimmy John’s restaurant will remain closed until further investigation.

“The MCHD Communicable Disease Division works with the doctors and hospitals who are treating the ill patients to question and collect any biological samples provided from patients who cooperate and sends those samples to Illinois Department of Public Health labs to narrow down the type of illness,” stated Manko.

“The MCHD and Illinois State University have a strong history of collaborating to identify sources of illness, and taking immediate action to ensure future safety,” Manko also stated.

Past History: Food Poisoning and Jimmy John’s

Regrettably, this is not the first time Jimmy John’s has been under scrutiny. On December 1, 2018, In Bloomington-Normal, Illinois a Wesleyan University track and field coach, his assistant, and student athletes ate at the Jimmy John’s restaurant, and they all contracted norovirus from eating contaminated food. Norovirus is very contagious; it is acute gastroenteritis which causes inflammation of the stomach or intestines.

The most common symptoms of norovirus are diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and stomach pain, other symptoms also include fever, headaches and body aches. So, how do you get this virus? It can be from cross contamination – for example, touching contaminated surfaces and then placing your contaminated hands in your mouth or having direct contact with a person that has been infected with the virus.

Notably, on December 4th, 2018, Jimmy John’s had to close due to repeated calls from alleged gastrointestinal illness.

“We know from the records we were able to obtain from the McLean County Health Department through a FOIA request that there was a person that was contaminated making sandwiches barehanded. The symptoms of the norovirus are exactly what these people with the Illinois Wesleyan University track team came down with,” said lawyer, James Ginzkey.

Are We Thinking THIS Outbreak is Norovirus?

We aren’t sure. It looks like it might be. But it could be others.

The CDC list below provides a handy guide of symptoms, when symptoms begin, and common food sources for germs that cause food poisoning. The germs are listed in order of how quickly symptoms begin:

Staphylococcus aureus (Staph)

  • Symptoms begin 30 minutes to 8 hours after exposure: Nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps. Most people also have diarrhea.
  • Common food sources: Foods that are not cooked after handling, such as sliced meats, puddings, pastries, and sandwiches


  • Symptoms begin 2 to 48 hours after exposure: Watery diarrhea, nausea, stomach cramps, vomiting, fever, chills
  • Common food sources: Raw or undercooked shellfish, particularly oysters

Clostridium perfringens

  • Symptoms begin 6 to 24 hours after exposure: Diarrhea, stomach cramps. Usually begins suddenly and lasts for less than 24 hours. Vomiting and fever are not common.
  • Common food sources: Beef or poultry, especially large roasts; gravies; dried or precooked foods



  • Symptoms begin 12 to 48 hours after exposure: Diarrhea, nausea/stomach pain, vomiting
  • Common food sources: Leafy greensfresh fruitsshellfish (such as oysters), or unsafe water
    Other sources: Infected person; touching surfaces that have the virus on them

Clostridium botulinum (Botulism)

  • Symptoms begin 18 to 36 hours after exposure: Double or blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech. Difficulty swallowing and breathing, dry mouth. Muscle weakness and paralysis. Symptoms start in the head and move down as the illness gets worse.
  • Common food sources: Improperly canned or fermented foods, usually homemade. Prison-made illicit alcohol (pruno).


E. coli (Escherichia coli)

  • Symptoms begin 3 to 4 days after exposure: Severe stomach cramps, diarrhea (often bloody), and vomiting. Around 5­­–10% of people diagnosed with E. coli develop a life-threatening health problem.
  • Common food sources: Raw or undercooked ground beef, raw (unpasteurized) milk and juice, raw vegetables (such as lettuce), raw sprouts, unsafe water


  • Symptoms begin 1 week after exposure: Watery diarrhea, loss of appetite, and weight loss. Stomach cramps/pain, bloating, increased gas, nausea, and fatigue.
  • Common food sources: Raw fruits or vegetables and herbs


How You Can Keep You and Your Family Safe During this Jimmy Johns Food Poisoning Outbreak

Food poisoning is relatively common, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC estimates that each year approximately about 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) get sick from foodborne illness,128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die each year from the foodborne diseases.

Per CDC, you should seek medical emergency attention if you have symptoms that are severe, including:

  • Bloody diarrhea
  • High fever (temperature over 102°F, measured in your mouth)
  • Frequent vomiting that prevents keeping liquids down (which can lead to dehydration)
  • Signs of dehydration, including little or no urination, a very dry mouth and throat, or feeling dizzy when standing up
  • Diarrhea that lasts more than 3 days
  • Frequent vomiting that prevents keeping liquids down

In order to prevent dehydration during this time, it is also very important that you stay hydrated, water and sports drinks that contain electrolytes are recommended. If you believe you have been exposed to food poising or any food borne illness, take the preventive measures and contact your medical provider with any questions you may have. Remember, your health always comes first. Early medical treatment can reduce the risk of severe illness and long-term complications.


By: Nancy Saucedo-Jaimes