If you’re craving a salad from McDonald’s, you may just have to wait. The popular fast food chain is taking it off the menu of 3,000 locations following reports that more than 60 customers became ill after eating the menu item. The people have all come down with an intestinal illness caused by a parasite called Cyclospora. If that word sounds familiar, it’s because in June, Del Monte vegetable trays were recalled from Midwestern grocery stores after a similar outbreak.
The states affected
The FDA reports that Cyclospora-related illness has been confirmed in seven states (primarily Illinois and Iowa), but McDonald’s is pulling salads from 14 states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
“Out of an abundance of caution, we voluntarily stopped selling salads at impacted restaurants until we can switch to another lettuce blend supplier,” McDonald’s said in a statement. The chain has also removed the lettuce blend from distribution centers that serve those seven states and beyond.
Experts are not linking this outbreak to the Del Monte recall at this time.
What to do if you think you have a Cyclospora infection
If you live in one of the states above and ate a McDonald’s salad within the last week, watch for stomach flu-like symptoms, including diarrhea, stomach discomfort and a low-grade fever. The CDC reports that because “Cyclospora is spread by people ingesting something—such as food or water…it is unlikely that Cyclospora is passed directly from one person to another.”
Therefore, only people who ate contaminated salad need to watch for symptoms. If these symptoms arise, please call your health care professional. There is no vaccine for the infection, but it can be easily treated with a round of antibiotics.
How to protect your family from Cyclospora infections
As always, keeping up with recalls and knowing food safety rules are the best ways to prevent the spread of any food-borne illness. Wash fresh vegetables properly, cook foods thoroughly before eating them and make sure your family practices good hand-washing habits, and you’ll be well on your way.
Next, read up on things food-poisoning experts never eat.