February 25, 2020

Cyclospora Investigation Halts Taylor Farms Production In Mexico

One week after salad it produced was linked to a Cyclospora outbreak that sickened hundreds of people in Iowa and Nebraska, Taylor Farms de Mexico voluntarily suspended production and shipment of leafy greens, salad mix and salad mix components from its operations in Mexico to the United States, the company told the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today. The company, which suspended operations Friday, has told FDA officials that it will not resume production or shipment of these products without the agency’s approval.

cyclospora-outbreak-384The suspension of operations at the plant in Mexico includes the implicated salad ingredients: iceberg lettuce, romaine lettuce, red cabbage and carrots;  and others including green leaf lettuce and green cabbage. In Iowa and Nebraska, about 240 people who ate salad served at Red Lobster and Olive Garden restaurants developed Cycsloposra infections. Health officials in those states said at the end of July that they were confident that the tainted salad was no longer in circulation.

But it seems something tainted with the rare parasite was circulating more recently than that. Texas now leads the nation in number of Cyclsopora infections with at least 215  people sickened, some of whom only first became ill at the end of July. And within the last week the outbreak has grown to incude two more states: New Hampshire and Virginia.

In addition to Iowa and Nebraska, there are 16 other states with reported cases of Cyclsopora infections. But officials from those states and from federal agencies have not named Taylor Farms salad mix served at Olive Garden and Red Lobster as the source of illness in those states. Will green leaf lettuce and green cabbage be a common thread?

Maybe. Patients in several states were asked to fill out a lengthy food history questionnaire. The implicated salad greens and restaurants in Iowa and Nebraska are mentioned, but apparently not showing much of a pattern in other states.  In 2008, produce from Mexico was implicated in one of the largest food poisoning outbreaks in the last five years. In that outbreak, which sickened 1,442 people in 43 states, several foods were named as sources or likely sources including serrano pepers, jalapeno peppers and tomatoes.

This outbreak, the fourth-largest in five years, has sickened 535 people in 18 states. By state, the breakdown of  535 cases is as follows: Texas (215), Iowa (153), Nebraska (86), Florida (27), Wisconsin (10), Illinois (9), Arkansas (5), Georgia (5),  New York (6), Missouri (4), Kansas (3), Louisiana(3), New Jersey (2), Ohio (2), Virginia (2), Connecticut (1), Minnesota (1), New Hampshire (1).


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