While undercooked meat and seafood are often thought of as the main culprit when it comes to food poisoning and foodborne illnesses, tainted vegetables have been named as the source of a recent outbreak of cyclosporiasis.
As detailed by CNN, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a report documenting over 200 cases of cyclosporiasis, which have all been linked to tainted Del Monte vegetable trays. The trays in question, which were removed from stores since June 15, contain broccoli, cauliflower, celery sticks, carrots, and a small anticancer of dill dip.
Trays were sold at a variety of stores throughout the Midwest, including Kwik Trip, Kwik Star, Demond’s, Sentry, Potash, Meehan’s, Country Market, FoodMax Supermarket, and Peapod stores in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.
Illnesses have been reported from Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, though the cases from Michigan stemmed from trays purchased in Wisconsin.
To date, 212 people have been sickened by cyclosporiasis from ingesting food from the infected vegetable trays. Reports began on May 31, though the CDC believes that patients may have been infected from as early as May 14. Reports of infected individuals continued until June 13. The median age of those infected is 47, with ages ranging from 13 to 79 years of age. Seven people have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported as of the time of writing.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) describes cyclosporiasis as an intestinal illness caused by the microscopic parasite cyclospora cayetanensis, which can be ingested by humans through contaminated food and water.
Common symptoms of cyclosporiasis include diarrhea, loss of appetite, weight loss, stomach pains and cramps, bloating, increased gas, nausea, and fatigue. Other symptoms can include vomiting, body aches, headache, fever, and flu-like symptoms. Some of those who are infected may be asymptomatic. Most people with healthy immune systems will recover without any treatment.
The FDA also released a statement on what actions consumers should take.
“Consumers who have purchased recalled Del Monte 6oz, 12oz and 28oz vegetable trays from IA, IL, MN, and WI should discard the product immediately. Cooking or heating produce at high temperature will kill most pathogens, including parasites such as Cyclospora, and thus significantly reduces the likelihood of illness. This holds true for any produce that may contain Cyclospora. Washing or cleaning processes may not be sufficient to eliminate the pathogen.”
This particular outbreak is not related to a recent outbreak of cyclospora in Texas, which has been linked to imported produce, such as salad mix, raspberries, basil, and snow peas.