Fresh Express Blue-Ribbon Panel on the Prevention of Cyclospora Outbreaks in the Food Supply has released an Interim Report and Fact Sheet available to the fresh produce industry for the current season. The documents below are available in their entirety by clicking on the links.
Last summer, Fresh Express salads—a romaine lettuce mix—sold at McDonald’s were pulled from the fast food chain after being linked to a Cyclospora cayetanensis outbreak. Between July 2018 and September 2018, 511 illnesses were reported in 16 states. Approximately 24 consumers had to be hospitalized. No deaths were reported in relation to this outbreak.
The Fresh Express Blue-Ribbon Panel on the Prevention of Cyclospora Outbreaks in the Food Supply—an independent panel comprised of food safety experts, outbreak response and public health officials, and scientists with deep expertise in the biology of the Cyclospora cayetanensis organism—was formed in response to the outbreak. The panel’s goals were to study the Cyclospora parasite and identify controls to limit future outbreaks.
The panel was divided into four working groups that focused on different areas—root cause assessment, preventive controls, collaboration, and testing validation. Over the course of several months, the groups looked at existing information, research, and data points to form a more complete picture of the perplexing life cycle of the parasite, its dependence on human hosts, factors affecting its infectivity, potential modes of transmission and, importantly, recommendations for mitigation against contamination and future outbreaks.
Within the fact sheet, the panel provides leafy greens growers with tips on how to minimize the risk of Cyclospora contamination:
- Be vigilant for potential sources of human waste in agriculture waters (e.g., sanitary systems, including portable toilets, septic systems, RV parks, and campgrounds)
- Provide and properly train farm crews on the care and use of restroom and handwashing facilities. Provide appropriate usage oversite
- Develop health and hygiene awareness programs for farm personnel
- Exclude ill personnel from handling all raw produce and food contact surfaces
The interim report and fact sheet are available to the fresh produce industry for the current season. See the Fresh Express interim report and fact sheet on FreshExpress.com.