Salads at a popular fast food chain and vegetable trays sold in convenience and grocery stores are responsible for sickening hundreds of Americans and putting 10 of them in the hospital, according to an outbreak alert from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The new outbreak alert comes just months after contaminated Romaine Lettuce killed five people and made 200 others ill.
FDA, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), state and local partners are currently investigating several Cyclospora illnesses associated with McDonald’s locations in IA, IL, KY, MN, MO, NE, OH, SD, and WI and FDA alert posted
CDC has reported 163 laboratory-confirmed cases of cyclosporiasis in persons from FL, IA, IL, KY, MN, MO, NE, OH, SD, and WI who reportedly consumed salad products from several McDonald’s locations. Note, the Florida case-patient purchased a salad while traveling in Kentucky.
Similarly, FDA, CDC, state, and local partners are currently investigating several Cyclospora illnesses associated with recalled Del Monte 6oz and 12oz vegetable trays containing broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and dill dip that were sold by Kwik Trip/Kwik Star locations in IA, IN, MI, MN, and WI. Additionally, Del Monte is recalling “small veggie trays,” which are 28oz and include broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, celery and dill dip that were distributed to Illinois and Indiana.
As of July 19, 2018, CDC has reported 237 laboratory-confirmed cases of cyclosporiasis in persons from IA, MN, WI, and MI who reportedly consumed the vegetable trays. Seven of these people have been hospitalized and no deaths have been reported. The two cases from Michigan reportedly purchased the vegetable tray in Wisconsin and therefore Michigan is not impacted from this outbreak.
The McDonald’s and Del Monte outbreaks are not currently considered to be related.
What is Cyclospora?
Cyclospora cayetanensis is a microscopic parasite of humans. This parasite, when it contaminates food or water and is then ingested, can cause an intestinal illness called cyclosporiasis.
The Cyclospora parasite needs time (days to weeks) after being passed in a bowel movement to become infectious for another person. Therefore, it is unlikely that cyclosporiasis is passed directly from one person to another.
What are the Symptoms of Cyclosporiasis?
Most people infected with Cyclospora develop 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. Some people who are infected with Cyclospora do not have any symptoms. If not treated, the illness may last from a few days to a month or longer. Symptoms may seem to go away and then return one or more times (relapse).
What’s Being Done about it
On June 8, 2018, Del Monte withdrew their 6oz and 12oz vegetable trays from retail market locations, and they are not currently available for purchase. However, consumers who purchased these trays before the withdrawal may still have product in their homes since the expiration date is June 17, 2018, or earlier. The 28oz vegetable trays that were distributed to IL and IN are being recalled as of June 15, 2018. Del Monte reports the recalled products were distributed to Kwik Trip, Kwik Star, Demond’s, Sentry, Potash, Meehan’s, Country Market, FoodMax Supermarket and Peapod in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin and have “Best If Enjoyed By” date of June 17, 2018, or earlier.
The FDA has not identified which of the ingredients in either the McDonald’s salads or the Del Monte trays is the vehicle for this outbreak; each component of these vegetable trays and salads is under consideration. FDA is currently reviewing distribution and supplier information related to the vegetable trays; the investigation is ongoing.