Despite naming a source of a stomach illness outbreak, it may beawhile before health officials can connect the tainted salad mix to Arkansas.
Last week, the Foodand Drug Administration said they know the source of tainted salad mix that hassickened more than 200 people in Nebraska and Iowa since mid-June. Now, they're investigating if it's linked to 200 additional cases in 14 other states,including Arkansas.
The parasite Cyclosporahas left 22 people hospitalized with intestinal infections. The FDA said theillnesses in Nebraska and Iowa were caused by contaminated pre-packages saladsupplied by Taylor Farms de Mexico and served at Olive Garden and Red Lobsterrestaurants. The FDA's investigation into Arkansas and other states may takesome time says food safety expert, Caroline Smith DeWaal.
"This could be oneoutbreak where the trace back isn't complete yet, or it could be multipleoutbreaks and FDA is still tracking down all of the food sources," said DeWaal.
Taylor Farms de Mexicosays it is cooperating fully with the FDA in their ongoing investigation.
In a statementreleased over the weekend the company said:
"Taylor Farms deMexico assesses and tests all water sources, raw product fields; every lot,every day for any risk to our valued customers' products. We are redoubling andenhancing our testing and scrutiny in these areas to further assure foodsafety."
The product shippedin June is no longer in the supply chain and bagged salad is safe to eat, thecompany said.
"The company involvedhere has strict standards, but this is an emerging pathogen in this area," saidDeWaal. "We haven't heard of thisparticular part of Mexico having problems with Cyclospora before."