Just a few weeks after we learned about the salmonella outbreak linked to pre-cut melon, it turns out there's a separate outbreak affecting packaged veggies. According to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there have been 212 cases of cyclosporiasis, which causes gastrointestinal symptoms, in four states connected to Del Monte Fresh Produce trays. Seven of the cases required hospitalization.
Specifically, people became sick after reportedly eating Del Monte Fresh Produce trays containing cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, and dill dip. However, Del Monte Fresh already voluntarily recalled those products—6 oz., 12 oz., and 28 oz., veggie trays sold in clear plastic containers—as of June 15. The recalled products were distributed to Kwik Trip, Kwik Star, Potash, Meehan’s, Demond’s, FoodMax Supermarket, Sentry, Country Market, and Peapod stores in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.
So far, cases of illnesses have been reported in Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. However, according to a report from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the two cases in Michigan purchased their vegetable trays in Wisconsin.
Cyclopsoriasis is an intestinal illness caused by the single-celled parasite Cyclospora cayetanensis.
In the U.S., cyclosporiasis is most commonly connected to produce and has previously been detected in raspberries, cilantro, basil, mesclun lettuce, and snow peas, the FDA explains. The infection occurs in the small intestine and symptoms usually show up about seven days after the parasite is ingested. According to the CDC, those symptoms may include:
- Watery diarrhea
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Cramping and bloating
Less commonly, people might also experience vomiting or a low-grade fever.
The usual treatment is trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole, an antibiotic combination. However, the CDC explains that there isn't currently an accepted alternative if this first-line treatment doesn't work or if a patient is allergic to the antibiotics. According to the Mayo Clinic, in those cases, your doctor may prescribe other antibiotics, such as ciprofloxacin or nitazoxanide.
Without treatment, symptoms may continue for weeks or months, but the illness usually isn't life-threatening. For otherwise healthy adults, the biggest worry is dehydration, the Mayo Clinic says. So if your illness is mild, you may not need treatment beyond home remedies. But if you have other health issues, your illness is causing dehydration, or you're still experiencing symptoms for more than a few days, you'll need medical treatment.
The CDC and FDA recommend that consumers avoid the recalled veggie items.
The FDA says that cooking or heating up any potentially-contaminated produce is usually enough to kill any parasites. However, both the CDC and FDA say that you shouldn't try to salvage these vegetables, and you should instead throw them out if you have them.
Additionally, as SELF reported previously, it's important to follow basic food safety rules whenever you're cooking. That means washing your hands as well as any utensils, cutting boards, or other tools you might be using before you get started. It also means separating your raw fruits and vegetables from meat to avoid cross-contamination.
Of course, check in with your doctor if you've eaten any of the recalled products recently and think you may be developing symptoms of cyclosporiasis, especially if you've had diarrhea for more than three days, the FDA says.