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635 Ill with Cyclospora; Taylor Farms Resumes Production

After announcing on Monday that the Cyclospora illnesses in Texas were not linked to the outbreak in Iowa and Nebraska, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have kept their case count at 610 people in 22 states. That number lags behind the official count by the Texas Department of State Health Services, which has found 283 people sickened with Cyclospora in the state, bringing the total known cases to 635.

The lettuce grower connected to the illnesses in Iowa and Nebraska, Taylor Farms de Mexico, has resumed operations after investigators from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration could not find contamination at their facilities. Taylor Farms had suspended production on August 9, soon after the epidemiological investigation tied it to some Cyclospora infections.

Between August 11 and 19, the FDA performed an environmental health assessment of Taylor Farms’ processing facilities and five farms in Mexico, but found the conditions and practices to all adequately follow food safety protocols.

Taylor Farms lettuce has been linked to infections contracted after eating salads at Olive Garden and Red Lobster in Iowa, Nebraska, and possibly other states such as Florida. The last date anyone ate at one of those restaurants and fell ill with Cyclospora infection was July 2, five weeks before the FDA’s investigation into Taylor Farms began.

In a statement released Tuesday morning, the FDA said Taylor Farms had agreed to initiate a comprehensive Cyclospora sampling program for their products and water supply.

The investigation into what might have caused the outbreak in Texas remains ongoing.

The latest Cyclospora case count by state is as follows:

Texas (283), Iowa (156), Nebraska (86), Florida (31), Wisconsin (16), Illinois (11), Arkansas (10), New York City (7), Georgia (5), Missouri (5), Kansas (4), Louisiana (3), New Jersey (3), Connecticut (2), Minnesota (2), New York (2), Ohio (2), Virginia (2), California (1), New Hampshire (1), South Dakota (1), Tennessee (1), and Wyoming (1).

On August 23, Food Safety News published a detailed report on the Cyclospora outbreak: “National Cyclospora Outbreak: What We Do and Don’t Know

Cyclospora is a single-celled food- or waterborne parasite that may cause diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. In the U.S., it is often associated with imported fresh produce. In 1996, at least 1,465 people were infected with Cyclospora in an outbreak linked to raspberries grown in Guatemala. Another 804 people were sickened by Guatemalan raspberries the next year. In 2005, 592 contracted Cyclospora infections after eating basil imported from Peru.

© Food Safety News
  • Keith Warriner

    I would question how effective a cyclospora sampling plan would be to prevent contaminated product slipping through the net. The outbreak further highlights the need for more effective interventions at post-harvest to remove field acquired contamination. In the case of Cyclospora, there is an upward trend in infections over recent years and it would be optimistic to think that sampling alone will be an effective protective barrier.

    • Charlie Cok

      What would you suggest as a post harvest intervention

      • Keith Warriner

        There are a few options with low dose irradiation being the most obvious but a range of others exist, Gas phase ozone or chlorine dioxide are interesting along with Advanced Oxidative Process based methods.