In an August 16th update, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) confirmed a total of 476 Cyclospora illnesses in 15 states linked to salads sold at McDonald’s restaurants. According to FDA, the salad ingredients were supplied by a company that has also been implicated in a separate fruit-related outbreak that was declared over last month.
FDA has named Indianapolis-based Caito Foods LLC—the same supplier named in a Salmonella Adelaide outbreak linked to pre-cut fruit. That outbreak sickened 77 people in 9 states between April and July. The contaminated fruits included fresh-cut watermelon, honeydew melon, cantaloupe, and fresh-cut fruit medley products.
As of July 13, McDonald’s voluntarily stopped selling the implicated salads in 14 states. The fast food chain now has a new salad supplier in those states.
On July 26, FDA tested an unused package of Fresh Express salad mix that had been distributed to McDonald’s. The package contained romaine lettuce and carrots. The analysis confirmed the presence of Cyclospora bacteria, but it should be noted that the sample had an expiration date of July 19—a full 7 days prior to the sample being tested. Fresh Express was made aware of the positive test result on July 27.
On July 30, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a public health alert on beef, pork and poultry salad and wrap products potentially contaminated with Cyclospora that were distributed by Caito Foods. The alert was prompted by a notification from Fresh Express—who supplied salads to McDonald’s—that the chopped romaine in these products was being recalled.
FDA instructed Fresh Express to determine whether potentially contaminated product may still be on the market. Fresh Express reported to FDA that the romaine from the same lot as the positive sample was not packaged for direct retail sale by Fresh Express and had already expired. Fresh Express committed to using recall procedures to inform those companies that received this romaine about the sample result. Fresh Express also reported that carrots used in the mix were only sent to McDonald's locations.
FDA has said that they have no evidence to suggest that the McDonald’s/Fresh Express/Caito Foods Cyclospora outbreak is connected to the recent Del Monte vegetable tray Cyclospora outbreak.
The FDA and USDA continue to investigate this outbreak, and they are reviewing distribution and supplier details.