Stomach Bug Reportedly Linked to Salad Greens Served at Olive Garden, Red Lobster (Updated)
Reuters is reporting that a salad mix supplied by a Mexican company and served at Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants has been linked to a stomach virus that sickened more than 200 people in Iowa and Nebraska. Rich Jeffers, a spokesperson for the restaurant chains says it has been a month since the salad mix has been served at the restaurants. "We are fully confident along with health officials that in those states the product is out of the supply chain," he said. The FDA, which is still investigating the outbreak, says it is still unclear whether this particular salad mix was responsible for the cyclospora outbreaks in 14 other states.
ABC News reports that the mystery ailment, which has sickened hundreds, may be traceable to bagged salad greens sold in Iowa and Nebraska.
As of this writing, the CDC reports that over 378 people have been sickened with the tropical bug in 16 states, with the most cases in Nebraska, Iowa, and Texas. At least 10 have been hospitalized.
The tainted bagged salad mix contains two kinds of lettuce, cabbage, and carrots. Authorities in Iowa and Nebraska worked with the CDC to connect the outbreak, but are not releasing the brand name of the mix, which they say is no longer on store shelves, and because the tainted product was sold about one month ago. ABC’s medical expert, Dr. Richard Besser, says the FDA has not yet visited the farms where the products originated, making it difficult to know if further products have been contaminated.
Symptoms of Cyclospora include watery diarrhea, cramps, bloating, fatigue, and weight loss. If you think you’ve been infected, the CDC urges you to see a doctor, as symptoms can last over a month.
Dr. Besser says there are 48 million cases of food poisoning each year, and about half result from fresh produce. In order to reduce your risk when dealing with produce, Dr. Besser recommends the following tips:
Don’t wash pre-washed produce again; that will likely risk further contamination.
Look at and adhere to expiration dates, and purchase only the freshest, most thoroughly refrigerated items.
Throw out any damaged leaves, and use the produce right away.