Farm, salad maker linked to outbreak stops shipping to U.S.

Aug. 13, 2013 at 7:02 PM
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SALINAS, Calif., Aug. 13 (UPI) -- A Mexican company that distributes a salad mix linked to more than 535 cases of a diarrheal disease says it has stopped making and shipping salad mixes.

The salad mix, linked to the outbreak of cyclospora in June and July, was produced by Taylor Farms de Mexico, based about 180 miles north of Mexico City in San Miguel de Allende, and the Mexican subsidiary of the U.S. food-service company, Taylor Farms of Salinas, Calif., USA Today reported.

Texas reported the most digestive illnesses in the outbreak, 215 so far, followed by 153 cyclospora illnesses in Iowa and 86 in Nebraska.

The salad mix was served at Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants owned by Darden Restaurants.

Taylor Farms has 12 production sites but only the one in Mexico was affected. It shifted production of salad mix and leafy greens to its facilities in California, Colorado, Texas, Tennessee, Florida and Maryland, although the FDA and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not definitively linked the other 296 cases of cyclospora in 16 other states to the salad mix.

A statement by the website of Taylor Farms said the company would grow and pack broccoli in Mexico for shipment to the United States "as broccoli is not subject to this investigation."

Cyclospora, a one-cell parasite often misidentified as a stomach virus, is spread when people eat food or water that has come into contact with infected feces.

The cyclospora parasite cannot survive freezing and is therefore not common on cold-weather crops, such as spinach, broccoli, cabbage, or greens harvested in the winter, U.S. health officials said. The parasite cannot survive heated water at about 60 degrees or cooking, so consumers should wash produce with warm water, and wash hands with soap and water before washing produce and after handling produce to minimize the risk of cross-contamination, health officials said.

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