Health

McDonald’s Stops Selling Salads at 3,000 Locations Due to Possible Cyclospora Parasite Contamination

Update: Finally, we have some answers! As SELF wrote yesterday, romaine lettuce in Fresh Express salads and wraps sold at stores like Trader Joe's and Walgreens has been recalled for possible cyclospora contamination. And the McDonald's salads contained the same recalled Fresh Express lettuce mixes, according to an update from the FDA.

To figure this out, the FDA tested an unused package of Fresh Express salad mix that had been distributed to McDonald's and found that it did, in fact, contain cyclospora. McDonald's also sold Fresh Express carrots in the salad mix that the FDA says tested positive for cyclospora as well. However, the FDA says there's still no evidence to suggest the outbreak is connected to the cyclospora outbreak affecting Del Monte Fresh vegetable trays.

McDonald's has already stopped selling the salads in the affected locations, and the Fresh Express lettuce has been recalled. If you think you may have symptoms of cyclospora infection (which usually take about a week to develop), it's important that you check in with your doctor to make sure you get proper care.

Update (July 27, 2018): It's not over yet: The FDA released an updated count of the number of illnesses related to McDonald's salads, and over 100 more people have been added. As of July 26, there are now 286 recorded cases of cyclosporaisis in 15 states linked to the outbreak, 11 of which have required hospitalization, the FDA says.

Update (July 20, 2018): The warnings over potentially tainted McDonald's salads continue to grow. According to an update from the FDA, there are now 163 reports of illnesses in 10 states related to the salads, which officials believe may be contaminated with cyclospora cayetanensis, a single-celled parasite. Of those cases, three required hospitalization.

Luckily, the fast food chain already stopped selling the salads in about 3,000 locations until they're able to switch to a different supplier and is working with the FDA to figure out the exact source of the outbreak.

If ingested, the parasite can cause symptoms including diarrhea, fatigue, abdominal cramping that usually appear about a week later. Check in with your doctor if you think you may have symptoms related to cyclospora infection.

Original report (July 16, 2018):

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are investigating an outbreak of cyclosporiasis, an infection caused by the microscopic cyclospora cayetanensis parasite that may be linked to McDonald's salads. The company has voluntarily stopped selling salads at "approximately 3,000 of our U.S. restaurants primarily located in the Midwest," the fast food chain said in a statement last week.

According to the FDA, 61 people have become sick in connection with the outbreak in Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. "Out of an abundance of caution," McDonald's says it has stopped selling the salads at locations in those states as well as Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Montana, North Dakota, Kentucky, and West Virginia.

The FDA is working with McDonald's to identify which ingredients in their salads may be the culprit. Although there is some overlap in the states affected, the FDA says it doesn't currently have evidence to suggest these cases are associated with the cyclosporiasis outbreak linked to Del Monte vegetable trays reported earlier this month.

As SELF wrote previously, the symptoms of cyclosporiasis usually appear about a week after the parasite is ingested.

The symptoms of cyclosporiasis are similar to other foodborne illnesses and, according to the CDC, may include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Watery diarrhea
  • Cramping and bloating
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea

Treatment usually involves home remedies (e.g. staying hydrated) and the use of antibiotics. Without treatment, your symptoms may last from a few days to over a month. Even with treatment, you may experience a relapse, meaning the diarrhea and vomiting may go away only to come back a few more times. And, the CDC says, many people don't get any symptoms at all.

But if you think you may have cyclosporiasis, the FDA says you should contact your doctor for proper diagnosis and care.

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