July 17, 2018

FDA’s Cyclospora Report On Taylor Farms De Mexico

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has published the findings of the environmental assessment for cyclospora of several facilities operated by Taylor Farms de Mexico. Commercial bagged salad mix produced by the company and served at Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants in Iowa and Nebraska was identified as the  outbreak source in those states.

cyclospora-outbreak-384From June through August, 631 people in 25 states contracted cyclospora infections. Of those, 239 patients were in Nebraska and Iowa.  The source of 278 cases of cyclosporiasis in Texas was identified as contaminated cilantro imported from Mexico. The cause of 126 illnesses in 22 states was unknown.

Cyclospora is a rare parasite that is usually associated with travel to tropical areas. Symptoms include bouts of watery diarrhea that persist up to two months if untreated. The diarrhea can recur, is usually explosive and watery, and can force people to stay at home instead of going to work or school.

The FDA began its assessment five weeks after the last illness in Iowa and Nebraska was reported. Tests performed by the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on samples taken from the ranches were not positive for cyclospora, but the two areas where cross contamination was a possibility: the produce-washing station and the hand washing facilities in the portable sanitary trailers.

In all, about 835 product, water, and environmental samples were analyzed, including over 269 human feces samples collected from sanitary facilities on the ranches. The research team found one sample that was inconclusive due to the turbidity of the recycled wash water and recommends further research to determine if Taylor Farms de Mexico should re-evaluate their washing procedures.

The Sonora, Mexico ranch that supplied 100 percent of the carrots used in the salad mix was not included in the environmental assessment as the carrot harvest season had ended before the assessment began. The FDA  recommends testing be performed prior to the next carrot harvest.

Finally, medical records from the ranches show that several employees had been prescribed broad spectrum antibiotics. The ill employees are treated and sent home to recover. The FDA recommends that the company gather stool samples during home visits to better track illness.

 

 

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