Mexican Salad Imports Resume After Cyclospora Outbreak

August 27, 2013 — Taylor Farms de Mexico, the Mexican branch of the California-based produce company Taylor Farms, has resumed production and shipment of salad mix, leafy greens, and salad mix components after halting operations on August 9 due to a Cyclospora food poisoning outbreak.

According to an update from the FDA:

“From August 11-19, 2013, the FDA with the cooperation of Mexican government authorities  and Taylor Farms de Mexico, S. de R.L. de C.V., conducted a thorough environmental assessment at Taylor Farms de Mexico’s processing facility and five farms identified through the Cyclospora outbreak’s traceback investigation. The team found that conditions and practices observed at these facilities at the time of the assessment were in accordance with known food safety protocols.”

The last date someone got sick in the outbreak was July 2, more than five weeks before FDA investigators visited the facilities in Mexico. As a result of the investigation, Taylor Farms has committed to a comprehensive product sampling program that will test for Cyclospora on leafy greens and other products processed in Mexico.

Health officials in Iowa and Nebraska pinpointed over 80% of cases in their state to the same pre-packaged bagged salad mix that was sold in restaurants, including Olive Garden and Red Lobster. Taylor Farms de Mexico was pinpointed as the source of the Cyclospora outbreak in July, but health officials in other states have been unable to link cases to the producer. Although at least 610 illnesses in 22 states have been confirmed, no products have been recalled.

Unfortunately, Cyclospora cayetanensis is a rather hardy single-celled parasite that spends weeks in the environment as a non-infectious immature parasite called an oocyst. Normal sanitation methods used in food safety are ineffective at destroying the oocysts. The best way to prevent Cyclospora food poisoning is to avoid food or water that may be contaminated with feces.

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