CDC says salad Cyclospora outbreak over; FDA canal water investigation continues

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A multistate outbreak of Cyclospora infections linked to salad products that were made by Fresh Express bagged salad and is under investigation is over, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The outbreak included Fresh Express-branded products as well as products made by Fresh Express for retail store brands sold at ALDI, Giant Eagle, Hy-Vee, Jewel-Osco, ShopRite, and Walmart. The FDA’s investigation is continuing, in consultation with Florida officials and a regional water board.

“FDA’s traceback investigation is complete, however, the cause or source of the outbreak has not been determined. FDA’s investigation is continuing, in consultation with the state agriculture and regional water board,” according to an update posted today by the Food and Drug Administration.

“FDA investigated multiple farms identified in the traceback, one of which led to sampling and investigation around a farm in south Florida. FDA continues to work with the state of Florida and the local water district to try to determine the source and impact of Cyclospora that was found in the regional water management canal C-23, located west of Port St. Lucie, Florida.”

The FDA reports that it has been unable to determine if the Cyclospora detected in the canal is a genetic match to the patients, therefore, there is currently not enough evidence to conclusively determine the source of this outbreak.

However, the presence of Cyclospora in a canal that had previously supplied irrigation water in the region, and specifically to a farm identified in the traceback, suggests the need for a collaborative effort by state, federal, and industry partners to better define the scope of the contamination and identify appropriate risk mitigation measures, according to the FDA investigation update.

The CDC reports as of Sept. 23 a total of 701 people with laboratory-confirmed Cyclospora infections associated with this outbreak were reported from 14 states. Illnesses started on dates ranging from May 11 to July 24. Ill people ranged in age from 11 to 92 years old. No deaths were reported in this outbreak, but 38 people had to be hospitalized.

On June 27, 2020, Fresh Express recalled products containing either iceberg lettuce, red cabbage, or carrots and displaying the product code Z178, or a lower number. The “Best by” date on the products run through July 14, 2020.

The recalled products are now well beyond expiration and likely no longer on the market or in consumers’ homes.

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