Four people who ate at the Outback Steakhouse in Hermantown, MN are part of a Cyclospora outbreak linked to fresh imported basil that has sickened 35 people in the state and at least 100 more in 10 other states.
Minnesota’s other cases of cyclosporiasis, a parasitic infection, are linked to two other restaurants City Market in Rochester, where 26 people were sickened and an event catered by Duluth Grill where five illnesses were reported.
These illnesses are no the result of poor food safety measures at the restaurants. They received basil contaminated with a parasite that is almost impossible to wash off. But regardless of where the contamination originated, restaurants are liable for illnesses that result from the food they serve.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are work with state officials on the investigation of this outbreak. Using information gathered from interviews with case-patients, the FDA was able to identify the supplier of basil from various points of sale and determined that Siga Logistics de RL de CV of Morelos, Mexico was the exporter of the product. That company has complied with the FDA’s request for a recall.
Consumers and restaurants who have purchased basil imported from Mexico should check recall information carefully. This recalled product should not be eaten.
Reports of infection from Cyclospora, a parasite native to sub-tropical climates, used to be associated with travel outside the U.S. But, outbreaks linked to imported produce are becoming more and more common. And summer is peak season.
Last summer, two multi-state Cyclospora outbreaks were linked to imported, one involved salads sold at McDonald’s, the other Del Monte vegetable trays sold at Kwik Trip stores. And earlier this month an outbreak at Cooper’s Hawk restaurant in Jacksonville, FL sickened between 80 and 100 people.
Herbs and other produce can get contaminated with Cyclospora when crops are irrigated or washed in water that is contaminated with human feces. Or, when farmworkers who handle food don’t wash their hands properly after going to the bathroom.
Symptoms of a Cylospora infection include diarrhea that is watery and explosive, abdominal cramps, nausea, fatigue, headache, and other flu-like symptoms. It can be treated with antibiotics if diagnosed. See your doctor and mention possible exposure if you think you may be part of this outbreak.
Pritzker Hageman represents clients nationwide. If you have been sickened in this outbreak, we want to help. Use the form below to request a free consultation. You can also call 1 (888) 377-8900 (toll-free) or send a text to 612-261-0856.