Almost 400 People Ill From McDonald’s Parasite Outbreak

A display for McDonald's Asian Salad in a McDonald's restaurant in Oakbrook Illinois on June 25 2006

A display for McDonald's Asian Salad in a McDonald's restaurant in Oakbrook Illinois on June 25 2006

Federal health officials reported Thursday an additional 109 cases of cyclospora infection in an ongoing outbreak linked to McDonald's salads that began in May.

The cyclospora parasite affects the intestinal health of those who consume tainted water or food.

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Infected people shed unsporulated (non-infective; immature) Cyclospora cayetanensis oocysts in their stool; immature oocysts usually require at least 1-2 weeks under favorable laboratory conditions to sporulate and become infective. In response, McDonald's has stopped selling salads in 3,000 USA restaurants until they can replace their lettuce supplier. The most common symptom is watery diarrhea, although patients might also experience a loss of appetite, weight loss, cramping, nausea, and fatigue.

Fresh Express, which is based in Salinas, Calif., tracked the tainted lettuce from the same facility and lot number to Caito Foods, which is now involved in another recall that affected salads and wraps sold at Trader Joe's, Walgreens and Kroger, The LA Times reported. Symptoms can last a few days or several months. McDonald's, based in Chicago's West Loop, said in July that it had removed the mix from impacted restaurants. The analysis found Cyclospora in a sample from an unused package of salad mix with romaine lettuce and carrots.

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The statement said, "Fresh Express follows rigid food safety requirements and preventive controls throughout our supply chain that are carefully created to mitigate against potential health risks". The products were sold by grocery stores including Kroger, Trader Joe's and Walgreens.

However, romaine lettuce from the same batch was also packaged in pre-made salads by Caito Food of Indianapolis, IN.

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