October 24, 2021

FDA Releases Cyclospora Prevention Response and Research Action Plan

The FDA has released its Cyclospora Prevention Response and Action Plan, developed after 6,000 Americans were sickened with cyclosporiasis in the last three years. Cyclosporiasis is caused by the microscopic parasite Cyclospora cayetanensis.

The number of reported cases has been rising in this country over the past few years, due in part to better diagnostic testing methods.These outbreaks are always linked to fresh produce that the consumer does not heat or cook before serving, so the parasite survives from farm to table.

FDA Releases Cyclospora Prevention Response and Research Action Plan

These outbreaks typically occur in the spring and summer months, from May through August. In 2020, a Cyclospora outbreak linked to Fresh Express bagged salads sickened more than 700 people in 14 states. In 2019, there were six outbreaks:

An outbreak that was associated with workplace cafeterias in Virginia sickened at least 39 people. The source of these illnesses was not discovered.

A cyclosporiasis outbreak at Cooper’s Hawk restaurant in Jacksonville, Florida sickened around 80 to 100 people. Officials did not identify a source for the parasitic contamination.

A Minnesota cyclospora outbreak was associated with restaurants in different areas of the state. Officials think that basil was the source of the parasite. At least 35 people who ate at restraints in Rochester, Duluth, and Hermantown got sick.

At least 90 people were sickened with cyclosporiasis in New York City. Officials did not name a specific food or restaurant in this particular outbreak.

In the summer of 2019, an outbreak in Boston sickened more than 100 people. Again, the cause was not announced.

And a cyclospora outbreak linked to fresh basil that was imported from Siga Logistics de RL de V located in Morales, Mexico sickened 241 people across the country.

In 2018, three outbreaks sickened at least 750 people. Those outbreaks were not solved. And in 2017, two outbreaks sickened more than 1300 people. Again, those outbreaks were not solved.

Many of the products contaminated with the parasite were imported, but in the past few years the parasite has been found in surface water and food grown in the United States. The Cyclospora Task Force was created in 2019.

The FDA is developing and delivering education and outreach on prevention measures for growers. They are also are trying to modify available rapid test kits to specifically detect this pathogen and to develop industry best practices that can be used to test. They are also working with industry to research and identify practical ways to control the parasite in the environment and on produce. Chemical treatments are not effective, so farmers have limited options. The FDA is also trying to expand the capacity of states and the FDA to sample and test. And they are developing a farm investigation questionnaire specific to Cyclospora cayetanensis, as well as explore the role of wastewater in contamination.

The first recall of summer 2021 was issued this week, for Dole Fresh Blueberries. No illnesses have been associated with that product. We’ll see how many outbreaks there are this year, and if FDA efforts on their Cyclospora Prevention Response and Research Action Plan make a difference in the number sickened.

The Food Poisoning Attorneys At Pritzker Hageman 1-888-377-8900

If you or a loved one have been sickened with a Cyclospora infection after eating recalled produce, please contact our experienced lawyers for help at 1-888-377-8900 or 612-338-0202.

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