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Fresh Express Cyclospora Outbreak and Litigation - Multistate (2018)

On July 19, 2018, the CDC reported a total of 163 laboratory-confirmed cases of Cyclospora infection in people who had consumed salads from McDonald’s restaurants. By September 2018, the number of those who became ill would rise to 511 cases in 16 states with 24 hospitalizations. No deaths were reported.

The FDA, CDC, along with state and local officials investigated a multi-state outbreak of Cyclosporiasis illnesses linked to salads from McDonald's restaurants. FDA, CDC, state, and local partners investigated Cyclospora illnesses associated with McDonald’s locations in IA, IL, IN, KY, MI, MN, MO, NE, OH, SD, and WI.

The FDA instructed Fresh Express to determine whether potentially contaminated product might still be on the market. Fresh Express reported to the FDA that the romaine from the same lot as the positive sample was not packaged for direct retail sale by Fresh Express and had already expired. Fresh Express committed to using recall procedures to inform those companies that received this romaine about the sample result. Fresh Express also reported that carrots used in the mix were only sent to McDonald's locations.

As of July 13, 2018, McDonald's decided to voluntarily stop selling salads at impacted restaurants in IL, IA, IN, WI, MI, OH, MN, NE, SD, MT, ND, KY, WV, and MO.

On July 26, 2018, the FDA completed final analysis of an unused package of Fresh Express salad mix containing romaine lettuce and carrots, which had been distributed to McDonald's. The analysis confirmed the presence of Cyclospora in that sample though the expiration date for that product, July 19, had already passed. On July 27, the FDA informed Fresh Express of the results. In response to this investigation, McDonald's reported replacing the supplier of salads in the states where the outbreaks occurred.

The FDA investigation reviewed distribution and supplier information for romaine and carrots but did not identify a single source or point of contamination for this outbreak.

Marler Clark represented victims in this outbreak. All cases have settled at this time.

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Cyclospora Food Poisoning

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Cyclosporiasis is an intestinal illness caused by the protozoan parasite Cyclospora cayetanensis, which is transmissible by ingestion of food or water contaminated with sporulated oocysts. Most cases of cyclosporiasis occur...

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The modes of transmission of C. cayetanensis are still not completely understood. Direct person-to-person transmission is unlikely because the oocysts are not infectious when initially shed (unlike Cryptosporidium, another foodborne...

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What are the typical symptoms of Cyclospora infection? Cyclospora infects the small intestine (bowel) and usually causes watery diarrhea, bloating, increased gas, stomach cramps, flatulence, loss of appetite, nausea, low-grade...

How is Cyclospora Diagnosed?

Cyclosporiasis is usually diagnosed symptomatically in clinical settings, including the presence of watery diarrhea, abdominal cramping, and bloating. In untreated, immunocompetent people, the diarrhea can last from days to weeks...

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