June 15, 2024

Congresswoman DeLauro Wants Answers About Fresh Express/McDonald’s Cyclospora Outbreak

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) sent a letter to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb asking for information about the investigation of the cyclospora outbreak that is linked to Fresh Express salads and McDonald’s. In that cyclospora outbreak, almost 400 Americans are sick, and 16 people have been hospitalized.

Fresh Express McDonald's Cyclospora Outbreak

That outbreak was first announced July 13, 2018, after the Iowa Department of Public Health and the Illinois Department of Public Health reported an increase in cyclosporiasis cases among people who at salads sold at McDonald’s. Sixty-one people in seven states were announced as part of this outbreak.

The outbreak has grown over the month of July to include 395 people in 15 states. Work conducted by the FDA found Cyclospora parasites in a sample of Fresh Express salad mix containing romaine lettuce and carrots that was distributed to McDonald’s. McDonald’s stopped using their salad supplier and switched to another in 14 states on July 13, 2018. Several lawsuits have been filed against McDonald’s in this cyclospora outbreak.

She writes, “I write out of concern about the current outbreak of cyclosporiasis as well as the transparency and timeliness of your agency’s ongoing investigation. Although once rare in the United States, parasitic outbreaks caused by cyclospora have become more common over the last several decades. Many of these outbreaks have continually been found to be associated with imported fruits and vegetables.”

Congresswoman DeLauro continued, “Earlier last month, several Midwest state public health departments announced investigations linked to salad consumed at McDonald’s. However, However, it was not until July 26 that the FDA completed analysis showing that an unused package of product distributed to McDonald’s by the supplier, Fresh Express, was contaminated with cyclospora. Sometime between July 27 and July 30, Fresh Express notified Caito Foods, LLC that they had received recalled product, prompting the Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) to issue a July 30 public health alert on beef, pork and poultry wraps distributed by Caito Foods. This timeline of events does not instill confidence that the FDA has acted within the best interests of consumers in order to get potentially contaminated product out of the marketplace.”

She wants to know when the FDA learned that Fresh Express was the supplier of the implicated lettuce blend, has any other fast food chain or food distributor received potentially contaminated product from Fresh Express, and does Fresh Express know where the contaminated product was grown and processed.

The symptoms of cyclosporiasis include diarrhea that is frequent and explosive, loss of appetite, weight loss, stomach cramps, increased gas, bloating, nausea, vomiting, body aches, headache, fever, and fatigue. If you ate a McDonald’s salad this summer and have been ill with these symptoms, see your doctor. You may be part of this cyclospora outbreak.

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