Three grocery stores, Hy-Vee, Jewel-Osco and Aldi, have recalled their bagged garden salads after finding signs that the food could potentially be linked to a multi-state cyclospora outbreak, according to the Food and Drug Administration.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made the determination that the infection was linked to the salad mixes. However, the CDC also said, “Bagged salad mixes from ALDI, Hy-Vee, and Jewel-Osco do not explain all of the illnesses in this outbreak.”
Both the CDC and FDA have said that they are investigating this outbreak.
Local news station WSAW-7 reported that 122 people have fallen ill with cyclospora infections and 19 people have been hospitalized since May. The recall has affected several midwestern states including, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
The FDA Is Encouraging People To Throw the Mixes Away
The FDA is encouraging anyone who has bought the salads to throw them away and has told retailers not to sell the salad mixes, which contain iceberg lettuce, red cabbage and carrots.
According to the FDA, the HyVee brand was sold in Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin; the Jewel-Osco brand salad mix was sold in Illinois, Indiana and Iowa; and the ALDI mix was sold in Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
Cyclospora are microscopic parasites that cause gastrointestinal issues in their hosts, according to New York’s Health Department. Abroad, cases are often caused by unwashed food or water, while most cases in the U.S. are the result of imported fresh produce. The most common symptom of infection is diarrhea, while other symptoms include loss of appetite, stomach cramps, weight loss, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting and tiredness. The symptoms can take up to a week to appear after consuming contaminated food, but most infections can be successfully treated with antibiotics.
Fresh Express Is Facing Lawsuits Related to the Outbreak
The garden salad mixes that have been linked to the outbreak were manufactured by the company Fresh Express, Newsweek reported. Fresh Express President John P. Olivo told Newsweek, “Our first concern, of course, is for the health and wellbeing of those who have become ill and to ensure all appropriate measures are in place to protect public health.”
Fresh Express is facing a lawsuit from an Iowa couple, according to USA Today. “A man who says he was sickened by one of the company’s salads and his wife, who took him to the emergency room,” the paper reported.
The lawsuit, filed by Matthew Phillips, accuses Fresh Express of being negligent and failing in the area of food safety which resulted in him becoming ill and being put on an IV after eating the salad mix, USA Today reported. The paper said that after Phillips was sent home, he took a test that confirmed the presence of Cyclospora and spent June 3 to June 20 receiving more medical treatment for persistent symptoms.
OFT food safety and injury lawyers have said they are representing two clients, one from Illinois and another from Minnesota, who were sickened by the salad mixes and have decided to sue Fresh Express. Attorney Ryan Osterholm said he’s worried that the outbreak is larger than federal health agencies have been able to confirm. “I suspect there are many people that have put off medical attention due to COVID-19 concerns,” he said.
Fresh Express also recalled its Southwest Chopped Kit on June 18 due to the potential presence of wheat, soy, cashews and coconut, which could trigger life-threatening allergens, according to the FDA.