(RxWiki News) Officials have been working to pinpoint the source of a foodborne parasite that has been causing illness across the US this summer. Now they may have found one culprit.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has pointed to a salad mix sold in restaurants as the source of Cyclospora infections in at least two states — Iowa and Nebraska.
The parasite Cyclospora has caused 400 cases of cyclosporiasis across the US since late June, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Whether the salad mix is the source of the parasite in additional states is yet to be determined.
"Wash fresh produce carefully before eating."
According to the FDA, their investigation has linked Cyclospora in Iowa and Nebraska to a salad mix from Taylor Farms de Mexico, S. de R.L. de C.V., a restaurant supplier. The salad mix was sold in Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants, which are both owned by Darden Restaurants.
Clarifying earlier indications, the FDA reported that the investigation has not pointed the outbreak to consumer products available in grocery stores.
According to the FDA, "The Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals (DIA) and the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services have announced that they believe the contaminated salad is no longer in the food supply in those states."
In a statement, Taylor Farms stressed that it is cooperating fully with the FDA and that a 2011 FDA audit of the plant in question revealed "no notable issues."
"We can confirm statements by the Midwest health officials that product supplied during the month of June is no longer in the supply chain and bagged salad is safe to eat," reported Taylor Farms.
The FDA noted that the last report of a new cyclosporiasis case in Iowa was on July 1 and the last new case in Nebraska was discovered on July 2. Salad mixes typically have a shelf life of up to 14 days.
According to the CDC, a total of 146 cyclosporiasis cases have been reported in Iowa and 81 cases in Nebraska this summer.
Fifteen other health departments have reported Cyclospora infections: Texas, Florida, Wisconsin, New York City, Georgia, Illinois, Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Connecticut, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York and Ohio. The CDC reported that of the 400 known patients, at least 22 have had to be hospitalized and no deaths have occurred.
"It is not yet clear whether the cases reported from other states are all part of the same outbreak," the FDA reported. "The investigation of increased cases of cyclosporiasis in other states continues."
Symptoms of cyclosporiasis include watery diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, fatigue and loss of appetite. In some cases, the symptoms can linger for a month or longer.