Contaminated salad mix leaves over 200 people across 8 states sick with infection, recalled after CDC warning

The culprit behind the infection is cyclospora, a parasite that causes intestinal diseases - mainly diarrhea


                            Contaminated salad mix leaves over 200 people across 8 states sick with infection,  recalled after CDC warning
(Getty Images)

A contaminated salad mix sold in markets across eight states could have left more than 200 people infected and over 23 hospitalized, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  The agency recommends that people avoid purchasing the product, which is sold under various brand names at ALDI, HY-Vee, Jewel-Osco, and Walmart. 

The culprit behind the infection is cyclospora, a parasite that causes intestinal diseases - mainly diarrhea. Other signs of the food-borne disease include loss of appetite, weight loss, stomach cramps or pain, bloating, increased gas, nausea, fatigue, vomiting, body aches, headache, fever, and other flu-like symptoms. If untreated, the symptoms can last from a few days to a month or longer. Some patients, however, do not fall sick.

The warning comes after the heath agency interviewed infected patients. Current evidence seems to suggest that the parasite emerged from the contaminated product. "Epidemiologic and traceback evidence indicates that bagged salad mix containing iceberg lettuce, carrots, and red cabbage produced by Fresh Express is a likely source of this outbreak," the CDC said. They, however, are not ruling out the possibility that other sources could be involved. 

Fresh Express issued a voluntary recall on Saturday of dozens of branded and private label salad products produced at the facility that "contain iceberg lettuce, red cabbage, and/or carrot ingredients."

The CDC and the US Food Drug Administration (FDA) are currently investigating the outbreak. "If you live in Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, or Wisconsin and don’t know whether the bagged salad mix you have in your home is one of these recalled salads, do not eat it. Throw it away," the health agency added.

Bagged salad mix containing iceberg lettuce, carrots, and red cabbage produced by Fresh Express is a likely source of this outbreak. (Getty Images)

Authorities began recording the parasitic infection from May 11 to June 17, 2020. It has impacted people aged between 16 and 92 years. Of them, 57% are female. From the 8 states recording new cases, 57 caught the infection in Illinois, 74 in Iowa, 1 in Kansas, 25 in Minnesota, 10 in Missouri, 20 in Nebraska, 6 in North Dakota, and 13 in Wisconsin, as per CDC. None have died.

Given the situation, the health agency has warned people against consuming the product sold under the brand name Marketside Classic Iceberg Salad in Walmart stores in Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. At  ALDI stores, it sold as Little Salad Bar Brand Garden Salad in Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. At Hy-Vee, it is Garden Salad in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. And at Jewel-Osco stores, it is Signature Farms Garden Salad in  Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa.   

"There are typically multiple clusters of cyclospora infections that occur each summer. CDC is working to determine if other recent cases of Cyclospora infection are linked to contaminated ingredients in these bagged salad mixes. This investigation is ongoing," according to the agency.

The infection is common in tropical and subtropical regions. In the US, authorities have found that the parasite has contaminated food such as imported fresh produce such as raspberries, basil, snow peas, mesclun lettuce, and cilantro.

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