Parasite problems linked to packaged salads and wraps prompt recall
Federal food safety inspectors are urging consumers to check their refrigerators for packaged salads and wraps that may be contaminated with cyclospora parasites.
The beef, pork and poultry salads and wraps were distributed by Caito Foods of Indianapolis and sold by Walgreens, Trader Joe’s and Kroger, owner of Ralphs supermarkets, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.
All of the items had “best by” dates of July 18 to 23, the agency said.
The warning stems from a recall of chopped romaine lettuce supplied to Caito from Fresh Express, a Salinas produce grower. In a recording on its consumer hotline, Fresh Express said the lettuce, now past its expiration date, was sold only to food service companies, not directly to retail outlets.
Infection with the parasite can cause severe and frequent bouts of diarrhea, cramps, bloating, nausea, fever, and loss of appetite and weight, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The parasites are specific to humans and tend to spread through poorly processed sewage that may find its way into irrigation sources.
In mid-July, McDonald’s halted sales of its salads at 3,000 franchises in the Midwest after authorities in Illinois and Iowa reported an outbreak of illness attributed to cyclospora. Federal authorities have not linked the outbreaks.
In June, salad trays sold by Del Monte Fresh Produce were recalled after 227 people fell ill from cyclospora after eating vegetable-and-dip trays bought in convenience stores in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Michigan, according to the CDC.
The agency last year reported a sharp increase in illnesses linked to the parasite — more than 1,065 reported cases in 40 states. There were 384 cases reported during a similar period in 2016, compared with 546 in 2015 and 304 in 2014, according to the CDC.
Last month, Caito Foods also recalled fruit salads with pre-cut melons that have been linked to a Salmonella outbreak that sickened 77 people in nine states.
The recalls and warnings come as the produce industry is recovering from a 36-state outbreak of illnesses linked to E. coli bacteria in romaine lettuce, which killed five people and sickened more than 200 others, about half of whom had to be hospitalized, according to the CDC.
The E. coli strain was traced to an irrigation canal in the lettuce-growing region around Yuma, Ariz. The outbreak, which began in April, was declared over June 28.
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