The FDA confirms the presence of Cyclospora in Fresh Express salad mix through new laboratory method; Fresh Express recalls expired products containing romaine lettuce.
July 31, 2018 Update
The FDA has confirmed the presence of Cyclospora in an expired salad mix, containing romaine lettuce and carrots, that was produced by the processor Fresh Express in Streamwood, Illinois.
On July 26, 2018, the FDA completed final analysis of an unused package of Fresh Express salad mix containing romaine lettuce and carrots, which had been distributed to McDonald’s. The analysis confirmed the presence of Cyclospora in that sample, though the expiration date for that product, July 19, had already passed. On July 27, the FDA informed Fresh Express of the results, and instructed Fresh Express to determine whether potentially contaminated product may still be on the market.
Fresh Express reported to FDA that the romaine from the same lot as the positive sample was not packaged for direct retail sale by Fresh Express and had already expired. Fresh Express committed to using recall procedures to inform companies that received additional products of concern about the sample result. Fresh Express also reported that the carrots in the sampled salad mix only went to McDonald’s.
On July 30, 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) issued a public health alert on beef, pork and poultry salad and wrap products potentially contaminated with Cyclospora that was distributed by Caito Foods LLC, of Indianapolis, Ind. The products were produced between July 15 and 18, 2018, with either “Best By,” “Enjoy by,” “Best if Sold By” or “Sell By” dates ranging from July 18 through July 23, 2018. Caito Foods had received notification from Fresh Express that the chopped romaine in these products was being recalled.
McDonald’s reports that they stopped using the Fresh Express salad mix at impacted restaurants in IL, IA, IN, WI, MI, OH, MN, NE, SD, MT, ND, KY, WV, and MO on July 13, 2018. The company has since reported that it has replaced the supplier of salads in those states. More information can be found in McDonald’s Statement.
In 2015, FDA set up a multidisciplinary workgroup to prioritize the development, validation and implementation of a method for detecting Cyclospora in fresh produce. In 2018, FDA began using the newly validated Cyclospora method. The availability of this method is a significant advancement in FDA’s ability to investigate outbreaks of cyclosporiasis and identify the parasite in foods.
The investigation is ongoing and the FDA is currently reviewing distribution and supplier information for romaine and carrots.
A cyclospora outbreak among people who attended an event on July 3, 2018 at the Evanston Golf Club at 4401 Dempster Street in Skokie, Illinois has sickened more than one hundred people, according to the Skokie Health Department. The facility is fully cooperating with the investigation.
About 900 people attended that event. Officials have sent all attendees a food survey to help discover which foods may be linked to the outbreak. The Skokie Health Department would like everyone who attended the event at the golf club to fill out the survey, even if they did not get sick.
This outbreak is not linked to the McDonald’s cyclospora outbreak that is linked to the fast food chain’s salads, according to officials. That outbreak has sickened at least 123 people in Illinois, according to the CDC.