August 3, 2013
FDA Confirms Salad Mix Responsible For Cyclospora Outbreak
Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
An FDA investigation has confirmed an Iowa and Nebraska state health concern that bagged salad mix is responsible for a serious cyclosporiasis outbreak that has so far affected 16 states. Both Iowa and Nebraska had indicated on July 30, 2013 that prepackaged salad mix was responsible for the latest outbreak, but federal officials were not jumping the gun.
The FDA's traceback probe led the agency to Taylor Farms de Mexico, S. de R.L. de C.V., a processor of foodservice salads. The agency found illness clusters surrounding four restaurants that all were supplied with prepackaged salad from Taylor Farms de Mexico. However, the investigation has not implicated consumer packages sold in grocery stores at this time.
Taylor Farms de Mexico noted Friday that it has been cooperating with all FDA requests during the probe. The FDA and Taylor Farms will conduct environmental assessments at the firm's processing facility in Mexico to try to learn the origins of the outbreak and identify preventive controls to keep an outbreak from recurring in the future.
The FDA's most recent inspection of Taylor Farms, conducted in 2011, found no evidence of contaminants or other issues. But with the latest issue, the FDA noted it will step up its surveillance efforts on green leafy products exported to the US from Mexico.
Mexico's Federal Commission for Protection against Sanitary Risks (COFEPRIS) and the National Agro-Alimentary Health, Safety and Quality Service (SENASICA), are also collaborating with FDA officials during this investigation.
Iowa and Nebraska state health officials have both announced they believe the contaminated salad mix is no longer in the food supply in the US, as the last date that someone reportedly became ill with cyclosporiasis in Iowa was on July 1 and in Nebraska on July 2.
While the FDA has confirmed the Taylor Farms link to salad mix in Iowa and Nebraska, it is unclear if the outbreak in other states also hails from the same supplier. The agency has dedicated a 21-person team to solving this outbreak, but will increase numbers if necessary. Additionally, the FDA has 10 field offices across the country working on the outbreak.
As of August 1, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been notified of more than 400 cases of infection from Cyclospora. Cases have been reported from Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Texas and Wisconsin.
Cyclosporiasis is most commonly found in tropical and subtropical regions around the world. It is caused by ingesting food or water containing the single-celled Cyclospora parasite. Symptoms of cyclosporiasis include flu-like diarrhea, vomiting and body aches. Most people with healthy immune systems can recover without treatment, but older people and those with weakened immune systems may suffer from prolonged illness due to this particular infection.