The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are warning consumers and retailers in eight Midwestern states to stay away from certain bagged salad mixes as authorities investigate an epidemic of gut disease caused by a microscopic parasite.
More than 200 people in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and Wisconsin who said they ate the salad mixes before they got sick have infections. laboratory confirmed disease, cyclosporosis, the CDC said Friday. At least 23 people have been hospitalized for the disease and no deaths have been reported, the agency said.
The CDC urged consumers and retailers not to eat, sell or serve four different recalled salad kits, all of which were produced by Fresh Express in Streamwood, Ill.
Products include Marketside brand classic Iceberg salad, which was sold in Walmart stores with expiration dates May 19 to July 4, and Little Salad Bar brand garden salad, which was sold in Aldi stores with expiration dates of May. From June 1 to 29. Also on the list were the Jewel-Osco Signature Farms brand garden salad with expiration dates from May 16 to July 4, and the Hy-Vee brand garden salad with any expiration date.
Fresh express announced a separate voluntary recall on Saturday dozens of products made at Streamwood that contain iceberg lettuce, red cabbage and carrots, after learning from the FDA that the products could be linked to the outbreak.
The products are marked with the letter Z at the beginning of the product code, which is stamped in the upper right corner of the front of the package, the company said.
People started getting sick from May 11 to June 17, according to the CDC. They are between 16 and 92 years old; more than half are women and girls.
Cyclosporosis can be treated with an antibiotic, the agency said, but he noted that most healthy people recover on their own.
The CDC said in its alert that “bagged salad mixes purchased from Aldi, Hy-Vee, Jewel-Osco and Walmart do not explain all of the diseases in this epidemic,” and added that it and the FDA ” continue to investigate to determine if other products are causing disease. “
Donald W. Schaffner, food microbiologist at Rutgers University in New Jersey, said that the first major epidemic of food-related cyclosporosis was reported in the mid-1990s and that scientists have yet not yet found the cause.
“This is probably due to the quality of the water used to irrigate the products, and it probably has something to do with human faecal contamination of this water, but of course there are many unknowns,” said said Professor Schaffner. “Very often, with these outbreaks of fresh produce, we never learn the final cause.”
“But of course there was a break in the quality chain,” he added. The fact that hundreds of people are falling ill in several states, he said, suggests “a fairly significant health degradation in the production of this food”.
Professor Schaffner said it was the third consecutive year that there had been an epidemic of cyclosporosis in the warmest months.
Food Express spokeswoman Barbara Hines said on Sunday that “although everyone involved hopes the epidemic will decrease, the exact source of the contamination has not yet been identified, and it is imperative to do so.”
“Unfortunately, little is still known about Cyclospora and how it is transmitted to fresh produce, how it is infected or why epidemics usually occur in spring and summer,” she said.
Hines said “the company’s first concern, of course, is for the health and well-being of those who have fallen ill and to ensure that all appropriate measures are in place to protect public health “