FDA Links Cyclospora Outbreak to Salad Mix

Food recall lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm report that the FDA has officially named a Mexican produce supplier for the recent outbreak of cyclospora, at least in Iowa and Nebraska. There have been at least 460 cases of cyclospora infection in 16 states so far.

We recently wrote on an FDA proposal that would heighten rules and regulations for imported food into the United States. Had these regulations been implemented when they were supposed to, in 2012, it is likely this outbreak would not have occurred. The contaminated salad mix was imported from Taylor Farms de Mexico, a subsidiary of Taylor Farms, based in Salinas, California.

The salad mix was used in such restaurants as Red Lobster and the Olive Garden, and contains iceberg and romaine lettuce, carrots, and red cabbage. In an investigation, the FDA found cyclospora illness clusters in Iowa and Nebraska linked to the above-mentioned chain restaurants.

More than 20 FDA employees are currently working with Taylor Farms to conduct environmental assessments of the firm’s facilities in Mexico, in attempts to identify the exact cause of cyclospora contamination. This type of infection is caused by a one-celled parasite that can enter your body through food or water, most often through produce.

The only treatment for cyclospora infection is a combined antibiotic known as trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim, Septra); or, for those who cannot take sulfas, Cipro or Alinia may be effective. Signs and symptoms typically develop within two to 11 days after consuming the contaminated food or water, though some may not experience any symptoms. Others, particularly those with compromised immune systems, or those in early or advanced age, may continue to be infected for months if not treated properly.

If you know you have eaten the Taylor Farms salad mix, be sure to call your doctor as soon as possible so you can begin an antibiotic regimen. If symptoms worsen, and you become dehydrated, hospitalization may be required. Signs of dehydration include sunken eyes, reduced production of tears and urine, and dry mouth and tongue.

In the United States, cyclospora infections have been linked to contaminated basil, raspberries, and produce – all imported. Taylor Farms, like many other companies in the U.S., has subsidiaries in Mexico that grow vegetables and other produce during the winter months. Fortunately, none of the other 11 Taylor Farms facilities have been linked to the outbreak.

The FDA’s recent efforts to improve the safety of imported foods is, clearly, badly needed in this country, where about 15% of all food and over 30% of produce is imported. The new regulations will require importers, among other things, to know exactly whether their supplying farms or processors are taking the necessary steps to cut or eliminate safety risks. Third-party auditors will follow up with the importers and their suppliers to ensure the measures are indeed being executed properly.

About 3,000 Americans die every year from food-borne illnesses, and a paradigm shift in food safety standards is vital to reduce that number. The FDA is currently the sole agency responsible for checking imported food products, yet the agency is unable to comprehensively examine about 98% of the food coming into the country. Now, with these heightened regulations, the agency will be able to work more closely with foreign governments and inspection agencies to ensure the safety of our food.

Contaminated food lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm will continue to report on any food and drug recalls that may compromise the health of the public. If you or a loved one was seriously injured or sickened by contaminated or recalled food, you have important legal rights, and may be entitled to significant compensation through a lawsuit against the manufacturer or supplier.

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