A food poisoning outbreak tied to 132 cyclospora illnesses in 11 states was likely caused by fresh basil imported from Mexico by Siga Logistics de RL de CV, the Food and Drug Administration announced late Thursday. Four people have been hospitalized.
The investigation is ongoing, but the agency has requested a voluntary recall, and Siga Logistics has agreed. The FDA is working with the company to facilitate the recall.
Cyclospora is a parasite that spreads when people eat food (or drink water) that has come into contact with contaminated feces. Illnesses that are part of this outbreak have been reported in Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Wisconsin. In Florida, Minnesota, New York, and Ohio, some people were exposed to cyclospora at restaurants. The FDA did not name the restaurants.
The FDA did not immediately respond to a request for comment and a receptionist at Siga Logistics said no one was available to comment right away.
What Consumers Should Do
Consumers should not use or eat any fresh basil imported by Siga Logistics, the FDA advised.
If you already bought fresh basil and can’t determine where it is from—or if you don’t know the importer but do know it came from Mexico—throw it away.
Fresh, uncooked basil often shows up in salads or in pesto, and as whole or chopped leaves in many restaurant dishes. So avoid ordering dishes with basil at restaurants, and ask that basil not be used to garnish your dish, unless the restaurant can assure you the herb didn’t come from Siga Logistics.
If you had basil in your refrigerator that might have been contaminated, or if you have used basil in the past few months, do a thorough cleaning. Wash and sanitize affected areas of your refrigerator and countertops, as well as cutting boards and utensils, and be sure to wash your hands with soap and warm water when you’re done.
Symptoms of Cyclospora
Symptoms of cyclospora usually emerge about a week after being infected, and the illness can last anywhere from a few days to a month or more.
Symptoms usually include watery, sometimes explosive diarrhea. Many people with cyclospora also experience fatigue, loss of appetite, stomach cramps, bloating, and nausea. In some cases vomiting, body aches, and flu-like symptoms can occur. Sometimes cyclospora symptoms go away and then return, and some people with the infection do not experience symptoms at all.
Products recalled: There’s no formal recall yet, but the FDA is working with Siga Logistics de RL de CV to facilitate a recall of basil the company imported into the U.S. from Mexico.
The problem: The FDA has determined that this basil is the likely source of a cyclospora outbreak that has caused 132 illnesses in 11 states.
The fix: Throw away potentially affected basil, even if you plan to cook with it, to be safe. And don’t eat fresh basil from Siga Logistics. If basil is from Mexico but you don’t have information on the supplier, don’t eat it. And if you don’t know where the basil came from at all, avoid it. The FDA will update its page on this outbreak with more information as it becomes available.
Who to contact: Call your healthcare provider if you think you might be experiencing symptoms of cyclospora. You can also contact the FDA using the links found toward the bottom of this page. Siga Logistics has not yet provided contact information for consumers.
Consumer Reports is an independent, nonprofit organization that works side by side with consumers to create a fairer, safer, and healthier world. CR does not endorse products or services, and does not accept advertising. Copyright © 2019, Consumer Reports, Inc.
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