FDA Bans Cilantro From Mexico: Human Feces Discovery Only The Beginning Of Problem [Video]

The Food and Drug Administration announced on Monday a partial ban of cilantro originating out of Mexico. The FDA caused a halt to fresh cilantro from the Mexican state of Puebla because an investigation turned up a severe lack of acceptable sanitary conditions on cilantro farms.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state public health officials have identified annually recurring outbreaks (in 2012, 2013, and 2014) of cyclosporiasis in the United States which have been associated with fresh cilantro from the state of Puebla, Mexico.

“There is currently (in July 2015) another ongoing outbreak of cyclosporiasis in the United States in which both the Texas Department of State Health Services and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection have identified cilantro from the Mexican state of Puebla as a suspect vehicle with respect to separate illness clusters.”

According to CNN, the FDA investigation came about in response to hundreds of cases of reported intestinal illnesses linked to cilantro consumption. The condition known as cyclosporiasis is caused by parasites called Cyclospora cayetanensis. Symptoms typically appear within a week of consuming tainted goods and often manifests in the form of diarrhea and vomiting.

Although first noted in 2012, cases in 2013 and 2014 were linked to the crop in Puebla, Mexico. U.S. and Mexico authorities visited 11 separate farms within the past three years. Five farms reportedly tested positive for illness-causing parasites. The FDA said that eight of the farms had “objectionable conditions,” including using filthy containers to store cilantro.

Human feces and toilet paper were discovered in certain cilantro fields due to the lack of restrooms for workers. Though some farms did provide toilet facilities, they were found to be without running water or lacked soap and toilet paper. The conditions actively contributed to unsanitary cilantro production and arguably led to illness or a high risk of illness.

To counteract this problem, the FDA will not allow cilantro from Puebla to be imported from April 1 until August 31. Authorities found that illness outbreaks occurred annually during this window of time. To export cilantro to the U.S., Mexican cilantro companies must meet certain health standards. In addition, these businesses must provide documentation that verifies that their crops were produced in sanitary conditions and are safe for human consumption.

Although the ban is limited to this one Mexican state, there does not appear to be a date to end the ban, with the safety measures expected to roll over annually. Hopefully these findings and the resulting FDA ban will encourage cilantro companies to be more mindful about the farmers from whom they purchase.

Do you think the FDA cilantro ban will encourage these farms to improve their conditions? Share your thoughts below!

[Image Credit: flickr]