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Massive Fresh Express Cyclospora Bagged Salad Recall

Posted in Cyclospora,Cyclospora,Our Blog,Outbreaks & Recalls on June 30, 2020

Fresh Express has recalled a number of their salads, according to a press release put out by the company. The recalls are part of their response to an outbreak of cyclosporiasis that’s sickened hundreds of people across the United States. Here is what we know about this Fresh Express Cyclospora Bagged Salad Recall:

The Recall

The recall covers several different products containing iceberg lettuce, red cabbage, and carrots. The salads recalled were manufactured at the Fresh Express facility in Springwood, Illinois.

Fresh Express says that the recalls come out of an abundance of caution. We don’t know yet whether cyclospora has been found at the facility in Springwood. Some products manufactured there have already been recalled, however, and some people who have fallen ill in the cyclospora outbreak have reported eating those products.

The recall covers several different lines of salad. Some carry the Fresh Express brand; others are marked with a different label.

Products affected by the recall are marked with a “z” at the beginning of their product code. According to the press release, if a Fresh Express manufactured salad has a product code that starts with the number Z178 or lower (e.g. Z177, Z176) AND contain either iceberg lettuce, red cabbage, or carrots, it’s affected by the recall.

There are too many Fresh Express products affected by the recall to list easily here, but we’ll cover a few of them. The list includes coleslaws, chopped salad kits, Fancy Greens, and Farmers Garden products. Green and Crisp, Iceberg Garden, Premium Slaw, and Premium Romaine products have also been affected. So have some Fresh Express SHREDS products.

Also affected are various Giant Eagle and Hy-Vee salads. So are the Little Salad Bar, Marketside, Signature Farms, and Wholesome Pantry Organic lines.

The above is not an exhaustive list. Nor does it mean that every product in the lines listed above has been recalled — nor has every Fresh Express product. If you suspect that you have bought a salad from Fresh Express that’s been recalled, please go to the link above and check it to be sure.

Affected products were distributed to a number of stores between the 6th and the 26th of June. The press release contains a list of some of the states affected by the recalls: they include Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, Vermont, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.

According to Fresh Express, customers have been notified of the recall. In this case, customers means the grocery stores and other outlets that sell Fresh Express products to consumers. Per the press release, those outlets have been “instructed to immediately remove recalled products from all store shelves, distribution, and other inventories to ensure they are no longer available for sale or consumption.”

As you may already know, anyone who has already bought a salad affected by the recall shouldn’t eat it. It can’t be washed or chemically disinfected, because of the particular qualities of cyclospora. There’s only one course of action: throw the salad out.

The Outbreak

The trouble at the root of these recalls is a large cyclospora outbreak that’s affected some 8 states in the Midwestern United States so far. More than 200 people have fallen ill, and some two dozen have been hospitalized thus far.

Cyclospora and Greens

Cyclospora is a warm-weather parasite that crops up perennially during the summer months. This is the first big multi-state outbreak of the parasite this summer, but it may not be the last one we see this season.

Leafy greens are a common vehicle by which cyclospora travels into people’s homes and digestive systems. Because they’re commonly used in dishes that don’t go through a high heat kill step, like salads, greens are a tricky food when it comes to food safety.

If greens are a tricky food, then cyclospora is an even trickier foodborne pathogen. It’s not a bacteria, like E. coli or salmonella; instead, it’s a protozoa, part of a grab-bag of microscopic organisms which are neither fungi nor bacteria but something else entirely.

Cyclospora is a parasite that’s spread through feces. Much of its life is spent as a hardened little egg-like ball called an oocyst. Once it’s made its way into your digestive system, cyclospora oocysts attach themselves to the walls of your intestine and go through the rest of their life cycle, eventually passing out of the body and looking for another host to infect.

Cyclospora oocysts are unusually tough. Chemical disinfectants like chlorine or iodine are ineffective against them. They can’t easily be washed off of a leaf of lettuce by running it under water. Although they can be killed by heat, not all the foods they attach themselves to are traditionally heated.

Once it’s in the body, cyclospora causes cyclosporiasis – an unpleasant if not particularly dangerous form of food poisoning with the classic symptoms of upset stomach, watery diarrhea, bloating, and flatulence. Occasionally, the condition can lead to vomiting or a low fever. It’s not particularly dangerous for healthy individuals, but it does pose some extra risk for the very young, the very old, and the immunocompromised.

The Lange Law Firm 

Our mission is to help families who have been harmed by contaminated food or water.  When corporations cause Cyclospora food poisoning outbreaks or Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks, we use the law to hold them accountable.  The Lange Law Firm, PLLC is the only law firm in the nation solely focused on representing families in food poisoning lawsuits and Legionnaires disease lawsuits.

If you or your child was infected with Cyclospora or any other parasite and are interested in making a legal claim for compensation, we have a Cyclospora lawyer ready to help you.  Call us for a free no obligation legal consultation at (833) 330-3663 or send us an e-mail here.

By: Sean McNulty