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Subway replaces produce items in response to Illinois outbreak

by Joan Murphy | June 08, 2010
Produce items served in Subway sandwiches are under scrutiny as Illinois health officials investigate an outbreak involving 60 Salmonella cases across 22 counties.

As of June 8, Illinois Department of Public Health reported 60 cases of Salmonella Hvittingfoss, an uncommon serotype, which appears to be linked to food served at Subway restaurants. Illinois reports only one or two cases of this type of Salmonella each year.

"At this time, a specific food source has not been identified in association with this outbreak," the Illinois Department of Public Health said June 7. Subway said that the company moved to replace certain produce items as a precaution.

"Although there has been no positive or confirmed association with a specific product, the Subway restaurant chain has voluntarily withdrawn all lettuce, green peppers, red onion and tomatoes from the suspected dates from its restaurants and has replaced the product with new, fresh produce," the company said in a press release. "The 'Subway' brand will continue to work with the Department of Public Health to assist in pinpointing the exact cause of the outbreak."

Along with regular inspections, Subway said that it requires produce vendors to "maintain a very high standard while conducting business and are inspected regularly by us and by third-party auditors."

State health officials said that illnesses started between May 11 and May 25 and that cases range in age from three years old to 88 years old.

While Subway moved to replace produce items served in sandwiches, it is unlikely that the cause of the outbreak is still in circulation, according to Les Winograd, Subway's public relations specialist.