A parasitic outbreak that started at McDonald’s may have spread to Trader Joe’s, Kroger, Walgreens

A parasitic outbreak that sickened 163 McDonald’s customers in 10 states last month may have affected certain Trader Joe’s, Walgreens and Kroger products as well, according to the USDA.

The USDA released a public health alert after Indianapolis-based food distributor Caito Foods “received notification from their lettuce supplier, Fresh Express, that the chopped romaine that is used to manufacture some of their salads and wraps was being recalled.”

Illinois-based Fresh Express recalled products possibly contaminated with cyclospora, a parasite that spreads to food through contact with feces, and causes intestinal distress.

The wraps and salads had “sell by” dates between July 18 and July 23. Some examples are a chicken caesar salad from Walgreens, a tarragon chicken wrap from Trader Joe’s and a cobb salad from Kroger. The full list of affected products can be found here.

The “sell by” dates could be written as “Best By,” “Enjoy by,” Best if Sold By” or “Sell By,” according to the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), an agency within the USDA.

Caito Foods/USDA

The products bear the establishment number “EST. 39985” or “P-39985” inside or next to the USDA mark of inspection. If you have purchased an affected product, you should throw it out or return it to the store.

The USDA notes that symptoms can appear anywhere from two to 14 days after consumption of a product tainted with cyclospora. The agency also said that it could take up to six weeks for cyclospora infections to be reported.

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In a statement, McDonald’s said it has removed the affected lettuce blend and replaced it through a new supplier. The company stated that it will continue to cooperate with regulatory and health officials’ investigations to resolve the issue.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), consuming foods with cyclospora can lead to cyclosporiasis, which can causes diarrhea and vomiting that may last up to two weeks. Other symptoms may include loss of appetite, weight loss, stomach cramps and pain, bloating and increased gas. People may also feel flu-like symptoms like body aches, headache and fever, although some people who are infected never experience any symptoms at all. Symptoms typically begin within about one week of ingesting an affected food.

If you think you may have eaten a food affected by this latest outbreak and are experiencing symptoms, you should see your doctor. Infection can be diagnosed via stool specimens.  Although unpleasant, infection is treatable with antibiotics, and is not fatal.

According to the FDA, 286 people in 15 states have now become ill recently due to the outbreaks, 11 of which have been hospitalized. Fortunately, there have been no fatalities.

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