A McDonald’s Cyclospora outbreak caused by contaminated salads has increased to almost 400 victims in 15 states, according to the most recent update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
A total of 395 laboratory-confirmed cases of Cyclospora infections were reported in people who consumed salads from McDonald’s. Sixteen victims have been hospitalized because of the foodborne illness.
(Note: The Connecticut, Tennessee, and Virginia patients bought salads while traveling in Illinois. The Florida case-patient purchased a salad while traveling in Kentucky.)
McDonald’s Cyclospora outbreak: investigation
The CDC, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and state and local health departments are investigating the McDonald’s Cyclospora outbreak. The timeline of the investigation, as reported by the FDA:
- On July 26, the FDA reported that it completed its final analysis of a McDonald’s salad mix produced by Fresh Express containing romaine lettuce and carrots. The analysis confirmed the presence of Cyclospora, although the expiration date for the salad (July 19) had passed.
- On July 27, the FDA informed Fresh Express of the results. The FDA instructed Fresh Express to determine whether potentially contaminated salads were still available for purchase. Fresh Express reported that the romaine from the same lot as the positive sample was not packaged for direct retail sale by Fresh Express and had expired. Fresh Express officials said they informed companies that received the romaine about the result. They also reported that carrots used in the mix were sent only to McDonald’s locations.
- On July 30, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) issued a public health alert on beef, pork and poultry salad and wrap products potentially contaminated with Cyclospora distributed by Caito Foods of Indianapolis. The products were produced between July 15 and 18, and have either “Best By,” “Enjoy by,” “Best if Sold By” or “Sell By” dates ranging from July 18 through July 23. Caito Foods received notification from Fresh Express that the chopped romaine in those products was recalled.
McDonald’s Cyclospora outbreak: salad supplier switched
On July 13, McDonald’s voluntarily stopped selling salads in more than 3,000 locations in 14 states. The company has since reported it has replaced the supplier of salads in those states. More information can be found in McDonald’s statement.
McDonald’s Cyclospora outbreak: infection
The Cyclospora parasite produces an illness called cyclosporiasis, which is non-fatal. Its most prevalent symptom is watery diarrhea. People become sick from the parasite an average of seven days after eating contaminated food.
The CDC believes illnesses in this outbreak started on or after May 1.
McDonald’s Cyclospora outbreak: 2nd this summer
Cyclospora also caused more than 200 people to become sick in the Midwest in early July after they had eaten contaminated Del Monte vegetable trays. Consumers in Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin were linked to the outbreak.
Del Monte recalled 6- and 12-ounce mixed vegetable trays (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots) sold with dill dip. The trays were sold in the above-mentioned states, as well as Indiana and Michigan. The FDA said that a 28-ounce tray with broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, celery and dip was recalled in Illinois and Indiana.
“FDA has not identified which of the ingredients is the vehicle for this outbreak; each component of these vegetable trays is under consideration,” the FDA said. “FDA is currently reviewing distribution and supplier information related to the vegetable trays; the investigation is ongoing.”
McDonald’s Cyclospora outbreak: cyclosporiasis info
Cyclosporiasis, which is caused by the microscopic parasite Cyclospora cayetanensis, affects the intestines. People can become ill with Cyclospora by eating food or drinking water contaminated with the parasite.
Other symptoms of cyclosporiasis include:
- loss of appetite
- abdominal cramping
- bloating, gasiness, and nausea
- weight loss
People who have developed cyclosporiasis also can experience vomiting and a low-grade fever, although those symptoms are less common.
It is possible to become infected with Cyclospora more than once.
When to see a doctor
Most foodborne illnesses count diarrhea and other gastrointestinal distress among their symptoms. If you develop diarrhea that lasts several days or even recurs, contact your doctor.
If you have consumed food recalled because of a Cyclospora outbreak, be sure to tell your doctor.
If you become deyhdrated because of a prolonged case of diarrhea, see your doctor immediately. Warning signs of dehydration include:
- dry mouth
- sunken eyes
- lack of tears
- decreased urine output.