DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A Mexico processing facility
voluntarily suspended production of salad mix that’s been linked to the outbreak
of a stomach bug in Iowa and Nebraska, a California company announced.
Taylor Farms, based in Salinas, Calif., said its Mexican
branch, Taylor Farms de Mexico, will not resume production and shipping of any
salad mix, as well as lettuce and other salad mix components, without approval
from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Production has stopped and has been
shifted to domestic crops and processing facilities in the U.S.
Company officials said the suspension, which is expected to
last several weeks, allows Taylor Farms de Mexico to assist federal authorities
in their investigation into the cyclosporiasis outbreak, a stomach illness that
has sickened more than 500 people in 18 states.
Cyclospora is caused by parasites that are spread when
people ingest food or water contaminated with feces. People who are exposed
usually become sick after about a week and have diarrhea and other flu-like
symptoms that can last from a few days to several months if untreated with
The outbreak in Iowa and Nebraska has been linked to salad
mix served at local Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants that were supplied
by the plant in Mexico. The cases have not been linked to the other states.
Taylor Farms has said its Mexico facility has an extensive
water testing program.
“We continue to be very confident in our Mexico operation
throughout our own review of our existing, and recently further enhanced, food
safety procedures, systems and critical control points,” the company said in a
statement posted on its website.
The production halt goes beyond the implicated salad mix and
includes products such as iceberg lettuce, romaine lettuce, green leaf lettuce,
red cabbage, green cabbage and carrots.
“The action of Taylor Farms de Mexico exemplifies the
company’s cooperation with federal and state officials throughout this ongoing,
complicated investigation,” the FDA said in a statement on its website.
Processing facilities in California, Colorado, Texas,
Tennessee, Florida and Maryland will take over the salad mix production.
Broccoli products that are not being investigated will continue to be produced
at the Mexico facility, which is about 180 miles north of Mexico City in San
Miguel de Allende.
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