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FDA, CDC investigating Fresh Express facility in Illinois after bagged salads linked to intestinal parasites

Mary Ellen Podmolik, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Business News

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is inspecting a Fresh Express production facility in Streamwood, Ill., after bagged salads made there and sold at chains like Jewel, Aldi and Walmart were linked to a multistate outbreak of intestinal infections caused by the Cyclospora parasite.

On Saturday, Fresh Express recalled products containing iceberg lettuce, red cabbage and/or carrots that display the product code Z178 or a lower number, and a "best buy" date that runs through July 14. The recalled brands included Fresh Express as well as earlier recalled store brands Aldi Little Salad Bar, Giant Eagle, Hy-Vee, Jewel-Osco Signature Farms, ShopRite Wholesome Pantry, and Walmart Marketside. The bagged salads were sold in Illinois and more than 20 other states.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 200 illnesses and 23 hospitalizations have been reported in eight Midwestern states. Illinois had 57 cases, surpassed only by Iowa, with 74 cases.

On Monday, the FDA said it is working with Fresh Express, a subsidiary of Chiquita Brands, to determine whether other brands and retailers may be affected.

People become infected with Cyclospora by consuming food or water contaminated with human feces that contain the parasite, with frequent bouts of watery diarrhea the most common symptom. Symptoms, which usually begin a week after exposure, can also include loss of appetite, weight loss, cramping, nausea, fatigue and low-grade fever.

 

The infection can be treated with antibiotics.

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