Reports of McDonald's parasite cases up to 395 in 10 states
The FDA released an update on the Cyclospora infection cases connected to consumers who ate McDonald's salads, showing that as of July 27, labs had confirmed 395 cases from 15 states. The cases reported, however, in the states of Connecticut, Florida, Tennessee, and Virginia involved patients who had traveled to Illinois and Kentucky.
The U.S. FDA has joined with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to investigate health department-reported cases in all of the concerned states. As of press time, the CDC nor McDonald's had responded to QSRWeb's repeated requests for comment, but the chain has posted two paragraphs on its website since the reports were first publicized.
The first on July 13, noted:
"Out of an abundance of caution, we voluntarily stopped selling salads at impacted restaurants until we can switch to another lettuce blend supplier."
The company pulled the salads at 3,000 Midwest locations. On July 20, McDonald's restated that it is "committed to the highest standards of food safety and quality and we continue to cooperate and support regulatory and public health officials in their investigations."
It directed consumers to CDC and FDA websites for more information.
For its part, the FDA has said U.S. foodservice operators should continue their regular vigilant food handling and safety practices, while the investigation works to track down more details. The agency said any consumer who ate McDonald's salads in 11 states after May 20 this year is at risk. The states include Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio and South Dakota.
Additionally, The U.S. Department of Agriculture has issued a public health alert for beef, pork and poultry salad and wrap products potentially also contaminated with Cyclospora. The products made July 15 through July 18 and distributed by Indianapolis-based Caito Foods LLC, had "Sell By" dates of July 18 - 23, 2018. Caito Foods had received notification from Fresh Express that the chopped romaine in these products had been recalled.
At present, the agencies involved in tracking the outbreaks are analyzing samples and reviewing distribution and supplier information for romaine lettuce and carrots distributed by Fresh Express, while federal authorities have directed the company to determine if contaminated product remains on the market.
Fresh Express says problematic foods not sold direct to consumers
Fresh Express told federal authorities that the romaine lettuce that tested positive for the parasite was not packaged for direct retail sale. The company has issued recall procedures and has said that the carrots in the mixes distributed to McDonald's were only sent to that chain's outlets.
No information has been provided on where the Caito prepared meat products were distributed.
When ingested, the parasite typically causes anything from nausea and vomiting, to diarrhea and other symptoms that can be treated with medication, but can last a month if left untreated. Additionally, the infection may again manifest in those symptoms one or more times in the future.
The agency said, while the microscopic Cyclospora cayetanensis parasite can cause the intestinal symptoms many victims have reported when ingested, it's highly unlikely to have been passed from human to human since it is transmitted in infected human feces.