October 21, 2014

Salad mix that caused illness linked to Mexican facility

It appears the salad mix that caused illness in Nebraska was sold by Mexican subsidiary of an American company to two restaurant chains in the state.

The Food and Drug Administration says the salad mix that caused nearly 80 cases of cyclospora infection was produced by Taylor Farms de Mexico, a subsidiary of Taylor Farms of Salinas, CA.

The mix, according to the FDA, contained iceberg and romaine lettuce, carrots and red cabbage. It was sold to Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants in Nebraska.

The FDA says Taylor Farms has been cooperating fully with its investigation. The FDA found no issues with the Mexican facility during an inspection in 2011.

Officials with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services have stated they believe the salad mix in question is no longer in the food chain. The last report of cycloporiasis occurred on July 2nd. Taylor Farms says the bagged salad mix is off the market.

Investigators with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services <http://dhhs.ne.gov/Pages/Newsroom_Newsreleases_2013_July_Cyclospora2.aspx>conducted detailed interviews with the Nebraskans afflicted, asking as many as 300 questions in an attempt to discover the cause. Investigators, at times, talked with individuals three or four times. A common factor emerged and pointed them toward the salad mix distributed under a number of names. No local produce was involved.

DHHS says cyclospora is a rare parasite that causes a lengthy gastrointestinal illness. It can be found on fresh vegetables and fruit. Symptoms include chronic diarrhea that can last for weeks or months. Weight loss is common. One victim in Nebraska lost 25 pounds.

State officials worked with federal officials to pinpoint the exact origin of cyclospora to prevent future outbreaks.