Photo: wintersoul1 (Flickr)
In the wake of a rare stomach bug outbreak, some infected are suing while others are waiting for answers.
Cyclospora is a single-cell parasite that causes painful stomach and bowel issues, the effects of which can last sometimes into months. It is more common in tropical countries, and U.S. outbreaks have been traced to imported food.
Since the first infections in June, 425 people have reported infection in 16 states, with 24 of those landing in the hospital.
Infections have been reported in Texas, Nebraska, Florida, Wisconsin, Georgia, Illinois, Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Connecticut, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, and Ohio.
The first cases in Iowa and Nebraska have been traced to Taylor Farms in Mexico, the supplier for Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants’ salad mix.
But, consumers aren’t breathing easy just yet.
The FDA is still seeking the cause of illness in 14 other states, including Texas where Darden Restaurants, the parent of Olive Garden and Red Lobster, does not use Taylor Farms. The FDA is working to see if salad mixes ended up on consumer grocery shelves as well.
According to FDA spokesperson Theresa Eisenman says, tracing tainted food to its source is an intensive process:
In some situations, there can be hundreds of entities including wholesalers, brokers, distributors and retailers. In many cases, the records are not in electronic form and require extensive, time-consuming, manual data collection and review.
Suzanne Matteis of Dallas is suing Darden after suffering illness from consuming tainted salad at Olive Garden.