A ban on some cilantro imported from Mexico has been instated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after a 2012 outbreak that sickened hundreds of consumers with intestinal illnesses prompted an investigation.
Over the course of 3 years, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and public health officials from across the country have discovered that outbreaks of Cyclosporiasis--an intestinal disease--in the U.S. that have been traced back to fresh cilantro sourced from the state of Puebla in Mexico.
From 2012 to 2015, the FDA--along with Mexican food safety regulators--inspected 11 farms and packing houses in Puebla that produce cilantro. Officials found that five of these establishments were linked to the cyclosporiasis outbreak. Eight of the inspected locations had what the FDA has identified as “objectionable conditions”, including:
- human feces and toilet paper in or near produce growing fields
- restrooms without running water, soap and toilet paper
- Plastic bins and tables used to organize and transport cilantro were unwashed
- Employee handwashing station tested positive for Cyclospora cayetanensis at one farm
Through August 31, 2015, the FDA will not permit fresh cilantro from Mexican states to be imported into the U.S. without proper growing documents. All cilantro from below the border will be held until U.S. officials can verify it did not come from Puebla. The U.S. restaurant industry is not expected to be affected by the temporary ban since many chains say they obtain their cilantro supply from within the U.S., particularly California.