Taylor Farms has resumed the production and shipment of its salad mix, leafy greens, and salad mix components from its operations in Mexico to the US after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said hundreds of illnesses from cyclospora do not show a connection to the company’s salads.
Although the investigation of cases continues, CDC said that available evidence suggests that “not all of the cases of cyclospora in the various states are directly related to each other”.
“The preliminary analysis of results from an investigation into a cluster of cases that ate at a Texas restaurant does not show a connection to Taylor Farms de Mexico,” CDC explained.
Taylor Farms voluntarily ceased production and shipment of these products on 9 August when a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) traceback investigation found that illness clusters at restaurants were traced to a common supplier – Taylor Farms de Mexico.
Following that investigation, the FDA, with the cooperation of Mexican government authorities and Taylor Farms de Mexico, has conducted a thorough environmental assessment at Taylor Farms de Mexico’s processing facility and five farms identified through the agency’s traceback investigation.
However, the team found that conditions and practices observed at these facilities at the time of the assessment were in accordance with known food safety protocols.
As a result of the recent environmental assessment and FDA’s thorough review of a product sampling plan for cyclospora put in place by Taylor Farms de Mexico, the FDA agreed to the firm resuming operations.
Nonetheless, Taylor Farms has committed to a comprehensive cyclospora sampling programme for leafy green and other products from their farms and processing facility in Mexico.
This will include both sampling of their products and water and continued monitoring of the sanitary conditions of their facilities.
Meanwhile, the FDA said it will continue to work with its federal, state, and local partners to identify a specific food item linked to the illnesses by combining information collected from other affected states with that provided by the state health authorities in Iowa and Nebraska.
Should a specific food item be identified, the FDA, CDC, state and local partners said they will work to track it to its source, determine why the outbreak occurred, and if contamination is still a risk, implement preventive action, which will help to keep an outbreak like this from happening again.
Original epidemiologic and traceback investigations by the states of Iowa and Nebraska, the CDC and the FDA had initially linked a salad mix supplied by Taylor Farms de Mexico to Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants, which are owned by Darden Restaurants.
As a result, FDA increased its surveillance efforts on green leafy products exported to the US from Mexico.