FDA Issues Update on Cyclospora Outbreak Traceback Investigation

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), with the cooperation of Mexican government authorities and Taylor Farms de Mexico,  conducted Aug. 11-19, 2013 a thorough environmental assessment at Taylor Farms de Mexicos processing facility and five farms identified through the Cyclospora outbreaks traceback investigation.  The team found that conditions and practices observed at these facilities at the time of the assessment were in accordance with known food safety protocols. 

Epidemiologic and traceback investigations by the states of Iowa and Nebraska, the CDC and the FDA had linked salad mix supplied by the firm to Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants, which are owned by Darden Restaurants.  The last date that someone who had eaten in one of these restaurants in those states reportedly became ill with cycloporiasis was on July 2, more than five weeks prior to start of the Environmental Assessment.

As a result of the recent environmental assessment and FDAs thorough review of a product sampling plan for Cyclospora put in place by Taylor Farms de Mexico, S. de R.L. de C.V., the FDA agreed to the firm resuming operations.  The firm has committed to a comprehensive Cyclospora sampling program for leafy green and other products from their farms and processing facility in Mexico.  This will include both sampling of their products and water and continued monitoring of the sanitary conditions of their facilities.

On Aug. 25, 2013 Taylor Farms de Mexico, S. de R.L. de C.V., resumed production and shipment of salad mix, leafy greens, and salad mix components from its operations in Mexico to the United States.  The firm had voluntarily ceased production and shipment of these products on Aug.  9, 2013.    

The FDA says it will continue to work with its federal, state, and local partners in this investigation. 

As of Aug. 27, 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been notified of 616 ill persons with Cyclospora infection from 22 states: Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York (including New York City), Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Most of the illness onset dates have ranged from mid-June through mid-July. Among 591 ill persons with available information, 45 have reported being hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

Public health officials in Iowa and Nebraska performed investigations within their states and concluded that restaurant-associated cases of Cyclospora infection in their states were linked to a salad mix produced by Taylor Farms de Mexico. On Aug. 12, 2013, Taylor Farms de Mexico informed FDA that the company had voluntarily suspended production and shipment of any salad mix, leafy green, or salad mix components from its operations in Mexico to the United States. On Aug. 25, 2013, Taylor Farms de Mexico, with FDA concurrence, resumed production and shipment of salad mix, leafy greens, and salad mix components to the United States.

Currently, CDC is collaborating with the Texas Department of Health and Human Services and local public health departments to investigate cases of cyclosporiasis reported among people in Texas. The preliminary analysis of results from an investigation into a cluster of cases that ate at a Texas restaurant does not show a connection to Taylor Farms de Mexico. This investigation is ongoing.

Although the investigation of cases continues, available evidence suggests that not all of the cases of cyclosporiasis in the various states are directly related to each other.

Source: FDA, CDC