In June 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced recalls of certain Fresh Express bagged salads linked to a Cyclospora outbreak. The recalls included several popular store brands, as well as the Fresh Express label. The salad recalls involve salad made from iceberg lettuce, red cabbage and carrots. The brands include:
- Giant Eagle
The salads were originally linked to a Cyclospora outbreak in the Midwestern United States. They were included in a list of foods to avoid due to food safety concerns. Now, the outbreak is growing, with Cyclospora illnesses confirmed in eight states and three Canadian provinces.
Cyclospora Outbreak Grows
As the first salad recalls were announced, the FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began investigating the Cyclospora outbreak. The investigation determined that the source of the outbreak is salad products made at the Fresh Express production facility in Streamwood, Illinois. The FDA continues to work with Fresh Express to identify other brands that may be affected by the Cyclospora contamination.
As the investigation continues, the Cyclospora outbreak has grown tremendously. The FDA reports at least 509 illnesses and 33 hospitalizations. Here in the U.S., the outbreak is affecting the following states:
- Iowa – 160 cases
- Illinois – 151 cases
- Minnesota – 63 cases
- Nebraska – 48 cases
- Missouri – 46 cases
- Wisconsin – 30 cases
- North Dakota – six cases
- Kansas – five cases
In addition, there are reports of at least 37 cases spread across Ontario, Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador. Reports related to the Cyclospora outbreak began in May and continue. The FDA and CDC worry that more cases could be on the horizon since the Streamwood Fresh Express facility distributes products to 31 states and the District of Columbia.
The FDA and CDC are working with Canadian health officials to continue investigating and monitoring the outbreak.
Information about Cyclospora
Cyclospora is a parasite that causes intense intestinal illness, called Cyclosporiasis. The illness only develops when someone is exposed to a mature parasite. These single-cell parasites multiply only within the human body. Most often, people who develop Cyclosporiasis have come in direct contact with mature parasites – most often through food products.
Symptoms of Cyclosporiasis
Cyclosporiasis causes symptoms that are similar to many other intestinal illnesses. In the U.S., the symptoms tend to be more severe as the illness is so uncommon. Symptoms generally develop within a week of exposure to Cyclospora. Most often, symptoms include:
- Abdominal cramps
- Watery diarrhea (often explosive)
- Body aches
These symptoms may last a few days or several weeks. It is important to get treatment for Cyclosporiasis to avoid ongoing illness or a relapse of symptoms.
Most people who develop Cyclosporiasis recover without specific treatment. However, it is important to get a diagnosis and find out what you need to do in order to recover. Depending on your overall health and the severity of your symptoms, your doctor may advise you to:
- Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration
- Use anti-diarrheal medication
- Complete a round of antibiotics, such as Bactrim, Ciprofloxacin or Septra
- Get medical attention if you experience symptoms of dehydration, such as:
- Dry mouth or tongue
- Inadequate tear production
- A decrease in urine output
- Sunken eyes
Getting proper treatment for Cyclosporiasis is important. In rare cases, people with Cyclosporiasis can develop complications such as Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) or Reiter Syndrome. GBS causes muscle weakness and, in severe cases, paralysis. Reiter Syndrome causes pain and swelling of the joints, similar to arthritis.
Consumer Information About the Cyclospora Outbreak
The best way to avoid getting sick from the Cyclospora outbreak is to avoid eating the products that the FDA and CDC believe are responsible. If you regularly purchase Fresh Express salad, or any of the salad brands listed above, be mindful that they may be subject to a recall. You can identify the products in the recall by looking for the Product Code “Z 178” on the front of the package.
If you have bagged salads included in the recalls, you should not consume them. Throw them away or return them to the place of purchase for a refund. If you have questions or would like to request a refund, you can also contact the Fresh Express Consumer Response Center by calling 1-800-242-5472.
What to Do if You Develop Cyclosporiasis
If you have consumed these products recently, talk to your healthcare provider about your risk for Cyclosporiasis. You can also report adverse events to the FDA by containing a Consumer Complaint Coordinator, or by filing a report through MedWatch.
If you have suffered serious illness or complications, you may also find it helpful to learn more about your legal rights as a consumer. To find out your rights, contact Bad Food Recall to speak with a legal professional.