Fresh Express issues national recall of salads because of cyclospora risk

Fresh Express has issued a national recall of a dozen of its bagged salad products due to possible contamination with cyclospora, an intestinal parasite that can cause a wide range of symptoms, including diarrhea, stomach cramps and nausea.

The recall follows an outbreak of the intestinal illness cyclosporiasis in the United States that the Food and Drug Administration said Monday is "likely" linked to a product made at the company's Streamwood, Ill., plant.

A total of 206 people in eight states have become sick since early May, including 23 who required hospitalization, according to the FDA's website.

There have been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of the Fresh Express salads in Canada, a spokesperson for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency told CBC News on Tuesday.

But the company is voluntarily recalling its Chopped Kits, including Chipotle Cheddar, Thai 'N' Cashews, Sunflower Crisp, Asian, and Southwest, as well as its American, Veggie Lover's, Shreds Iceberg, Green & Crisp, 3 Colour Deli Cole Slaw and two sizes of its Iceberg Garden salad.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency

The recalled products all contain iceberg lettuce, red cabbage and/or carrot ingredients made at the company's Streamwood plant — like the U.S. recall, the spokesperson said.

The affected packages have a product code beginning with Z178 or a lower number and best before dates between July 8 and July 14.

A complete list can be found on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's website.

Food contaminated with cyclospora may not look or smell spoiled but can still make people sick and should not be consumed, the agency said.

The recalled products should be thrown out or returned to the store where they were purchased.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is verifying that industry is removing the recalled products from the marketplace.

Investigations underway

It's also conducting a food safety investigation, which may lead to the recall of other products, the spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

The recall notice was triggered when Fresh Express informed the agency that products subject to recall in the United States because of possible cyclospora contamination had also been distributed to Canada, he said.

The recall notice did not mention the outbreak in the U.S.

About 80 products sold under the Fresh Express brand name or under store brands, such as Aldi, Hy-Vee, Jewel-Osco, Walmart, Giant Eagle and ShopRite in more than 30 states are part of the U.S. recall.

The Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, state and local officials continue to investigate the multi-state outbreak.

Investigators are also trying to determine whether any other retail brands are affected.

Passed in feces

Cyclospora is a microscopic single-celled parasite that is passed in people's feces, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

If it comes in contact with food or water, it can contaminate food. A person may become infected after ingesting contaminated food or water.

Some people do not get sick at all, while others suffer from a severe upset stomach. Few people get seriously ill.

Most people develop the following symptoms within one week after being infected:

  • Watery diarrhea.
  • Abdominal bloating and gas.
  • Fatigue.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Weight loss.
  • Mild fever.
  • Nausea.

If left untreated, the symptoms may last a few days to a few months. It can be treated with antibiotics.

Most people who contract the illness recover fully, but it may take several weeks before their symptoms disappear, according to health officials.

Anyone who thinks they've become sick from consuming a recalled product should contact their doctor.