Hot on the heels of the last scary romaine lettuce outbreak, federal officials are now warning that certain packaged salads and wraps containing the leafy green lettuce may be contaminated with cyclospora parasites.
Consumers are urged to check their refrigerators for packaged salads and wraps that were distributed by Caito Foods of Indianapolis and sold by Walgreens, Trader Joe’s and Kroger, owner of Ralphs supermarkets, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.
Look closely at the expiration date. All of the items in question had “best by” dates of July 18 to 23, according to the agency. Throw away anything you are not sure about or take it back to the store.
This warning stems from a recall of chopped romaine lettuce supplied to Caito from Fresh Express, a Salinas produce grower, according to the LA Times. In a recording on its consumer hotline, Fresh Express said the lettuce, now past its expiration date, was sold only to food service companies, not directly to retail outlets. The complete list of products to beware of is here.
The cyclospora parasite is a nasty bug that causes intestinal illness after consuming contaminated food or water. Symptoms include diarrhea and explosive bowel movements, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those who are infected might also experience loss of appetite, weight loss, stomach cramps or pain, nausea, gas and fatigue. Vomiting, headache, fever, body aches and flu-like symptoms can also occur.
The illness may last a few days to a few months, and patients might feel better, but then get worse again. You also need to know that there is an incubation period ranging from two to 14 days. Illnesses might not have been reported yet due to the time it takes between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported. For cyclospora infections, this could take up to six weeks, the agency notes. The good news is the infections can be treated with antibiotics.
For the record, the last romaine recall, which was related to E. coli bacteria, was triggered by a 36-state outbreak that killed five people and sickened more than 200 others, about half of whom had to be hospitalized, according to the CDC. The E. coli strain was traced to an irrigation canal in the lettuce-growing region around Yuma, Ariz.
New romaine recall: Parasites lurking in packaged salads and wraps