CHAMPAIGN – Subway has a message for its Illinois customers:
We're sorry. Please come back.
A statement the company issued Wednesday, as the total number of confirmed salmonella cases linked to Illinois Subway restaurants reached 80, included:
"We sincerely apologize to all Subway customers, those who have fallen ill and whose who now may hesitate to come back for a while. We are truly sorry for the difficulty this situation has caused you, our customer, and are working diligently to solve this mystery and to regain your trust."
In the most recent Illinois Department of Public Health update on Tuesday morning, the Subway salmonella outbreak had spread to include people who ate at Subway restaurants in 26 counties: Bureau, Cass, Champaign, Christian, Coles, DeKalb, DeWitt, Fulton, Henry, Knox, LaSalle, Livingston, Macon, Marshall, McLean, Moultrie, Ogle, Peoria, Sangamon, Schuyler, Shelby, Tazewell, Vermilion, Warren, Will and Winnebago.
Subway spokesman Kevin Kane said in an e-mail today to The News-Gazette that it's important to note the cases cited by public health are all of people who ate at the restaurants prior to June 3.
"While we are committed to work with the health department to pin down a specific cause, people should know that we are confident that it is safe to eat in our restaurants. Any produce in question was removed a few weeks ago and we have been using new, fresh produce," he said.
Steps Subway says it's taken since the outbreak:
– Removed all lettuce, green peppers, red onion and tomatoes from Illinois locations and replaced them with fresh produce.
– Re-emphasized that all produce vendors must maintain highest standards of quality, freshness and safety and are regularly inspected by third-party auditors and government agencies.
– Reinforced that vendors must follow industry standard good food safety practices and Subway's own food safety and quality policy.
– Reminded restaurant staffs of in-store sanitation requirements for hand washing and glove usage during food handling.