Summarizing the latest outbreak in what’s become a perilous year for food safety:
▪ There are 436 people sickened in 15 states, 20 of whom have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.
▪ All but four people live in the so-called Heartland, with McDonald’s corporate home state of Illinois having 219. A Florida resident bought a salad while in Kentucky. Connecticut, Tennessee and Virginia residents bought salads while in Illinois.
▪ The Food & Drug Administration says it’s “reviewing distribution and supplier information for romaine and carrots” after the problem traces back to Fresh Express romaine lettuce and carrot mix packages sent to McDonald’s. After stopping selling salads at 3,000 stores in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana and West Virginia, McDonald’s has switched suppliers and resumed salad sales at those stores.
▪ This touches some pre-made salads sold at Trader Joe’s, Kroger and Walgreens, among other stores. According to the Centers for Disease Control, “Romaine lettuce from the same lot that was positive for cyclospora was distributed in pre-made salads and wraps distributed by Caito Foods LLC of Indianapolis.” Which is why there was a public health alert issued by the USDA’s Food and Safety Inspection Service last week about a slew of Caito Foods-produced beef, poultry and pork salad and wrap products with best by, enjoy by, best if sold by or sell by dates from July 18 through July 23.
▪ Though this involves romaine lettuce and cyclospora, everybody claims it’s not related to any other outbreaks. The FDA and CDC say it’s not related to the concurrent Del Monte vegetable tray cyclospora outbreak hitting some of the same states. The CDC says Fresh Express claims the tainted lettuce wasn’t used in bags of romaine lettuce sold at retail. Consumers are just getting back to buying romaine lettuce again after the E. coli romaine lettuce outbreak in the spring.
▪ Cyclospora is a parasite that can cause cyclosporiasis. People get it through infected water or food, the CDC says, and usually become sick within a week. The health organization describes the symptoms as usually causing “watery diarrhea, with frequent, sometimes explosive, bowel movements. Other common symptoms include loss of appetite, weight loss, stomach cramps/pain, bloating, increased gas, nausea, and fatigue. Vomiting, body aches, headache, fever, and other flu-like symptoms may be noted.”
Or, you can be infected, but symptom-free.