The Cedar Rapids Gazette is reporting that national chain Jimmy John's and a Marion based food wholesaler were issued letters from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last week over a reported link between their vegetables and cases of E-coli.

According to the FDA's letter, Jimmy John's "engaged in a pattern of receiving and offering for sale adulterated fresh produce, specifically sprouts, and cucumbers, resulting in five outbreaks of E-coli and salmonella nationwide over seven years." Most recently in Iowa, an E-coli outbreak sickened 22 people between November 21st and December 14th.

In interviews with 20 of the 22 people, the Iowa Department of Public Health learned that all had eaten at one or more Jimmy John's restaurants. Nine claimed they had eaten sprouts prior to their illness.

The FDA inspected Sprouts Unlimited in Marion between late December and early January. E-coli was found in nearly 15 sprout samples. The company claims to have improved safety measures and properly trained its employees.

Both companies have 15 days to file answers with the FDA.