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PHILADELPHIA -- Since May 11th, more than 200 people who ate Fresh Express salad mixes, mostly in the Midwest, have confirmed cases of cyclosporiasis, a parasitic infection. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this intestinal illness spreads through food or drink contaminated with the microscopic parasite Cyclospora cayetanensis, and can cause severe abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, body aches and fatigue. This latest outbreak has led to 23 hospitalizations and can likely be traced to the water used to irrigate the produce used in the salad mixtures.
In response, Grace Brombach, U.S. PIRG Education Fund Consumer Watchdog Associate, issued the following statement:
“The water used on farms to grow and clean produce comes from wells, ponds, rivers, and other fresh water sources that can be contaminated easily by pathogens that then compromise the food we eat. The Produce Safety Rule, under the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), offered solutions and science-based standards for the water use to grow and harvest our produce. It was scheduled to go into effect in 2018, but unfortunately, the FDA has delayed the start date until 2022.
Until these measures are put in place to further test and regulate agricultural water, we will continue to see recall alerts for tainted produce. Each year in the United States, about 48 million people become sick from foodborne illnesses. Whether it’s the bagged ingredients of a salad or other fresh fruits and vegetables, consumers shouldn’t have to worry that the produce they bring into their homes can make them sick.”
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