Health officials in Iowa and Nebraska said they had identified a prepackaged salad mix as the likely source of a multistate outbreak of Cyclospora cayetanensis infections.
Steven Mandernach, chief of the Food and Consumer Safety Bureau of the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals, said epidemiological data and food history interviews conducted will ill Iowans linked a bagged salad mix with the food-borne illness.
“The evidence points to a salad mix containing iceberg and romaine lettuce, as well as carrots and red cabbage as the source of the outbreak reported in Iowa and Nebraska,” Mandernach said in a statement.
“Because it can take more than a week for the first symptoms to appear after eating the contaminated food, there wasn’t a product on the shelf to be examined for the parasite,” Mandernach said.
Iowa has had the highest number of cases-143- of cyclosporiasis since late June, when the CDC first took notice of the outbreak. A total of 372 people in Iowa, Texas, Nebraska, Florida, Wisconsin, Illinois, Georgia, Missouri, Arkansas, Connecticut, Kansas, Minnesota, new jersey, New York and Ohio have contracted the illness as of July 29, 2013.
The FDA was investigating the salad mix to see if it can be blamed for cases outside of Iowa.
“FDA will continue to work with its federal, state and local partners in the investigation to determine whether this conclusion applies to the increased number of cases of cyclosporiasis in other states,” the agency said in a statement. “The goal will be to combine information collected from other affected states with that provided by the state health authorities in Iowa to identify a specific food item linked to the illnesses.”
Cyclosporiasis, caused by the single-celled Cyclospora cayetanensis, presents as prolonged, watery diarrhea, cramping, bloating, nausea and fatigue. It spreads by ingesting feces and symptoms can last up to 57 days.
Officials in Iowa said it was safe to resume eating salad mixes currently sold in the state. Similarly, according to the Nebraska Department of health and Human Services, “the bulk of the contaminated salad mix [has] already worked its way through the system due to limited shelf life.
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