The Mexican farm blamed for a cyclospora outbreak in two states has voluntarily stopped making and shipping bagged salads to the United States until the Food and Drug Administration says it can resume doing so, according to an FDA statement.
An FDA investigation traced the illness to Taylor Farms in Mexico, which provided salads to Darden restaurants in Nebraska and Iowa, the FDA said in a statement on Aug. 2. Darden restaurants include Red Lobster and Olive Garden, but the FDA has only tied Taylor Farms and Darden to the outbreak in two states out of 18 that have reported cases.
So far, 535 people have been infected and 32 have been hospitalized with the stomach bug-like illness that's caused by a one-celled parasite and spread through contaminated food, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most of the victims were sickened in June, but cases are still being reported to state and federal health departments.
Taylor Farms in Mexico has not yet been tied to the 296 cyclospora infections in the 16 remaining states, according to the FDA. Texas, which has more cases than any other state, has not yet pinpointed which food sickened its citizens.
The farm had been cooperating with the FDA on its investigation for more than a week.
"This voluntary action goes beyond the implicated salad mix and includes iceberg lettuce, romaine lettuce, green leaf lettuce, red cabbage, green cabbage and carrots," the FDA wrote in today's statement. "The action of Taylor Farms de Mexico exemplifies the company's cooperation with federal and state officials throughout this ongoing, complicated investigation."
Darden has also been cooperating with the FDA, Nebraska and Iowa, according to a statement from Darden spokesman, Rich Jeffers. He pointed out that the outbreak is no longer considered ongoing.
"We respect their findings and will continue to work with them on this matter," Jeffers said in an emailed statement. "The health and safety of our guests is our top priority, and it is completely safe to eat in our restaurants."