Del Monte is recalling freshcut vegetable trays because they are the suspected to be the source of a parasite that has sickened at least 78 people across four states.

The vegetable trays were identified by public health departments in Wisconsin and Minnesota a week ago as the likely source for the microscopic Cyclospora parasite. At that time, the states urged consumers to not eat the fresh, pre-cut Del Monte vegetables.

Photo illustration

Federal officials reported Friday night that Del Monte Fresh Produce Inc. is recalling three sizes of vegetable trays containing broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and dill dip. The multinational company distributed the pre-cut vegetables in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

“On June 8, 2018, Del Monte withdrew their 6-ounce and 12-ounce vegetable trays from retail market locations, and they are not currently available for purchase,” according to an outbreak notice posted Friday night by the Food and Drug Administration.

“However, consumers who purchased these trays before the withdrawal may still have product in their homes since the expiration date is June 17, 2018, or earlier. The 28-ounce vegetable trays that were distributed to Illinois and Indiana are being recalled as of June 15, 2018.”

Del Monte distributed the recalled vegetable trays to: Kwik Trip, Kwik Star, Demond’s, Sentry, Potash, Meehan’s, Country Market, FoodMax Supermarket and Peapod in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, according to the FDA notice. All of the recalled products have “Best If Enjoyed By” dates of June 17 or earlier.

The FDA had not identified which of the ingredients included on the vegetable trays is the vehicle for the Cyclospora parasites. All of the vegetables, the dip and all of its ingredients are under consideration, FDA reported Friday night. The agency is reviewing distribution and supplier information related to the vegetable trays as part of its ongoing investigation.

As of midnight EDT, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had not posted any information about the outbreak of Cyclospora illnesses, but the FDA and state officials reported they are working with the CDC on the investigation.

All 78 of the sick people have had laboratory tests that confirmed they had been infected by the parasite, according to the FDA notice.

The specific product information for the recalled vegetable and dip trays, as provided by Del Monte, is as follows:

Product Name Best By date Components UPC Code

Del Monte 6 oz.
Veg Tray w/dip

6/17/2018 Baby carrots, broccoli,
cauliflower and dill dip
7 1752472715 2

Del Monte 12 oz.
Veg Tray w/dip
6/17/2018 Baby carrots, broccoli,
cauliflower and dill dip
7 1752472518 9
Del Monte 28 oz.
Small Veg Tray w/dip
6/17/2018 Baby carrots, broccoli,
cauliflower, celery sticks and dill dip
7 1752478604 3

Wisconsin hit hard
In Wisconsin, “dozens of cases are being reported daily,” according to a Friday update from the state’s health department. The vast majority of 98 confirmed cases of Cyclospora illnesses in Wisconsin so far this year had symptom onset dates after May 29. In all of 2017 the state had only 23 laboratory-confirmed cases.

“Of people with completed interviews, 50 of 63 cases report consuming a Del Monte vegetable tray purchased at a Kwik Trip location in Wisconsin. Most ill persons reported purchasing the tray on or after May 16,” according to the update from the Wisconsin Department of Health.

To view the full sized graphic about the transmission and life cycle of Cyclospora parasites, please click on the image.

Two outbreaks in Minnesota
Twenty of the people sick with Cyclosporiasis are from Minnesota, according to a news release from that state’s health department that was also posted Friday. The FDA did not report a state-by-state breakdown on the number of cases. Such outbreak details are generally tracked and reported by the CDC.

The Minnesota Department of Health is also investigating what officials there believe to be an unrelated outbreak of Cyclospora illnesses among people who ate at who ate at Sonora Grill in Minneapolis in mid-May. As of Friday, 17 patrons reported illnesses. The restaurant is “fully cooperating” with the health department’s investigation. Minnesota officials do not have any indication that there is an ongoing risk to customers of Sonora Grill.

To better identify the source of parasitic infections, Minnesota outbreak investigators want to speak with anyone who ate at Sonora Grill during the weekend of May 18-May 20, regardless of whether they became ill.

“Even if you have not been sick, your information can help us identify what may have caused these illnesses and prevent future illnesses,” said Trisha Robinson, an epidemiologist supervisor with MDH. 

“If you ate at Sonora Grill during that weekend of May 18-20, please contact the Minnesota Department of Health Waterborne Diseases Unit at 651-201-4891.” 

Advice to consumers
Anyone who has eaten any items from the recalled Del Monte vegetable and dip trays and developed symptoms of cyclosporiasis should seek medical attention and tell their doctors about their possible exposure to Cyclospora parasites.

Symptoms usually include diarrhea, with frequent, sometimes explosive, bowel movements. Other common symptoms include loss of appetite, weight loss, stomach cramps/pain, bloating, increased gas, nausea, and fatigue. Vomiting, body aches, headache, fever, and other flu-like symptoms may be noted. 

Some people who are infected with Cyclospora parasites do not have any symptoms. If not treated, the illness may last from a few days to a month or longer. Symptoms may seem to go away and then return one or more times, making diagnosis difficult.

“The Cyclospora parasite needs time — days to weeks — after being passed in a bowel movement to become infectious for another person,” according to the FDA notice. “Therefore, it is unlikely that cyclosporiasis is passed directly from one person to another.”

Cyclospora parasites can contaminate foods or beverages, but in the United States they are most often found on fresh produce. A spike in U.S. cases has been recorded during the summer months in recent years among people who consumed fresh cilantro from Mexico.

Consumers who bought the recalled Del Monte vegetable and dip trays in the outbreak states discard the products immediately. Washing or other cleaning processes may not be sufficient to eliminate the parasite from fresh produce or other raw foods, according to the FDA.

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