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Origin of salad-linked outbreak remains a mystery

July 31, 2013 • National News


In this image provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a photomicrograph of a fresh stool sample, which had been prepared using a 10% formalin solution, and stained with modified acid-fast stain, reveals the presence of four Cyclospora cayetanensis oocysts in the field of view. Iowa and Nebraska health officials said Tuesday, July 30, 2013, that a prepackaged salad mix is the source of a cyclospora outbreak that sickened more than 178 people in both states. Cyclospora is a rare parasite that causes a lengthy gastrointestinal illness. (AP Photo/Centerd for Disease Control and Prevention)

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nearly 400 people across the country have been sickened by cyclospora, a lengthy intestinal illness usually contracted by eating contaminated food. But if you’re looking to find out exactly where it came from, you may be out of luck.

Federal officials warned Wednesday that it was too early to say whether the outbreak of the rare parasite reported in at least 15 states was over.

Health officials in Nebraska and Iowa say they’ve traced cases there to prepackaged salad. They haven’t revealed the company that packaged the salad or where it was sold, explaining only that most if not all of it wasn’t grown locally.

The lack of information has fueled concern from consumers and food safety advocates who argue that companies should be held accountable when outbreaks happen and customers need the information about where outbreaks came from to make smart food choices.

“If you want the free market to work properly, then you need to let people have the information they need to make informed decisions,” said Bill Marler, a Seattle attorney who specializes in class-action food-safety lawsuits.

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