Olive Garden, Red Lobster Linked to Cyclospora Outbreak in Iowa and Nebraska

The FDA says it traced the source of illness to a salad mix supplied by a Mexican company to chain restaurants.

People who ate at Red Lobster and Olive Garden restaurants in Iowa and Nebraska caught an intestinal illness tied to a rare type of parasite named Cyclospora after eating eating salad mix that came from Mexico, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA traced the outbreak to four “illness clusters” of restaurants which received contaminated salad mix came from Taylor Farms de Mexico, “a processor of foodservice salads,” according to the FDA. The Taylor Farms de Mexico plant in Mexico produced and distributed about 48 million servings of salads to thousands of restaurants in the Midwest and eastern United States this past June.

The investigation didn’t reveal any indications that any bags of salad mix with Cyclospora were sold at U.S. grocery stores.

As of Thursday, there had been 146 cases of Cyclospora inspections reported in Iowa, according to that Iowa’s public health department.

The incidents in Iowa and Nebraska may be linked to 140 Cyclospora cases in Texas, according to information from Texas public health officials Friday. As of Friday, authorities had not singled out a common source for the outbreak in Texas, which is largely centered in and around Dallas and Fort Worth.

As of August 1, 2013 (5pm EDT), CDC has been notified of 400 cases of Cyclospora infection from the following 17 health departments: Iowa, Texas, Nebraska, Florida, Wisconsin, New York City, Georgia, Illinois, Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Connecticut, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, and Ohio.

Most of the illness onset dates have ranged from mid-June through early July. People infected with Cyclospora usually experience symptoms such as diarrhea, weight loss and nausea that can last anywhere from a few days to more than a month.

The information about Taylor Farms de Mexico link to Cyclospora and the Iowa and Nebraska restaurants was not posted on the FDA website or the Medwatch Twitter account as of Saturday morning 9:00 a.m. CT. Nebraska reported 82 cases. Information was available on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website at www.cdc.gov/parasites/cyclosporiasis

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