August 5, 2013 — A woman from Dallas, Texas has filed a lawsuit against Darden Restaurants after she became sick with cyclospora food poisoning after eating at an Olive Garden in Addison, Texas on June 5. Four days later, she suffered from severe gastrointestinal illness. She was diagnosed with infection caused by Cyclospora, a parasite that has been linked to pre-packaged salad mixes sold in mid-June. At least 425 cases of cyclosporiasis have been identified in 16 states, and 24 people have been hospitalized.
Health officials in Iowa and Nebraska traced clusters of cyclospora infections to bagged salads eaten at Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants. The salad mixes came from Taylor Farms de Mexico, an American-owned processing plant in Mexico that supplies food-service salads to several major chain-restaurants.
The CEO of Taylor Farms, Bruce Taylor, reported distributing about 48 million servings of salad in June, when the outbreak occurred. The company, which is based in California, has at least 12 processing plants. Only one plant has been linked to the outbreak, which is located in San Miguel de Allende.
A spokesman for Darden, the company that owns the Olive Garden, said “We do not use the supplier, Taylor Farms, in our restaurants in the state of Texas.”
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has not concluded that salad from Taylor Farms or Olive Garden are associated with an outbreak. However, new cases have dropped off since mid-June, indicating that whatever caused the outbreak is past its expiration date and is no longer on store shelves. The CDC said in a statement:
“It is not yet clear whether the cases reported from other states are all part of the same outbreak. The investigation of increased cases of cyclosporiasis in other states continues.”
Cyclosporiasis is an intestinal illness caused by the microscopic parasite Cyclospora cayetanensis. The parasite is relatively uncommon in North America, but is more common in tropical and subtropical climates. Infection causes an illness called cyclosporiasis, which causes watery diarrhea for an average of 57 days if left untreated.
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