Romaine lettuce recalled for Cyclospora risk

Have romaine lettuce in your fridge? To be on the safe side, throw it out, says the Center for Science in the Public Interest (Nutrition Action‘s publisher).

The FDA confirmed the presence of Cyclospora in a sample of Fresh Express salad mix distributed to McDonald’s. So far, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 286 people in 15 states have become ill in the outbreak. There have been 11 hospitalizations and no deaths.

The mix contained carrots and romaine lettuce. (McDonald’s says that it has stopped selling the salads at affected outlets.) While Fresh Express indicated that the carrots used in the mix were only sent to McDonald’s, an announcement on July 30 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed that chopped romaine from the same lot as the positive sample had also been distributed to other stores, including Kroger, Trader Joe’s, and Walgreens. Expiration dates ranged from July 18 through July 23. But the recall may be wider, since salads that did not include meat would not have been covered by the USDA announcement.

Fresh Express, which has initiated a recall, has confirmed to the FDA that the affected romaine was not sold directly to consumers under the Fresh Express brand. But neither Fresh Express nor the FDA has published the names of retailers other than McDonald’s who may have received lettuce from the affected lot and sold it to consumers under different brand names.

Recalled lettuce may be in consumers’ refrigerators, and people who have eaten the lettuce may remain at risk due to the length of Cyclospora’s incubation period. Consumers who have purchased romaine lettuce should throw it away.

The Cyclospora parasite can cause an intestinal illness called cyclosporiasis, which causes diarrhea and often other gastrointestinal symptoms, says the FDA.


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