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Diarrhea outbreak in 16 states tied to salad; Mexican facility blamed

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By USA Today
Friday, Aug. 2, 2013, 8:54 p.m.

The outbreak of a diarrheal disease has been linked, at least in Iowa and Nebraska, to a salad mix provided to restaurants by the Mexican subsidiary of an American foodservice company, the Food and Drug Administration said on Friday.

At least 400 cases of cyclospora infection had been reported in 16 states as of Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said late Wednesday.

Iowa and Nebraska state health officials had linked illnesses in those states to a salad mix. The FDA announced that the salad mix was produced by Taylor Farms de Mexico, a subsidiary of Taylor Farms of Kingsburg, Calif.

The FDA investigation found that illness clusters at four restaurants in those states were traced to Taylor Farms de Mexico as the common supplier, the agency said in a release.

FDA has staffers working with the firm and will be conducting an environmental assessment of the company's processing facility in Mexico to try to learn the cause of the outbreak.

The company has been cooperating fully with all FDA requests.

Taylor Farms is an American producer of prepackaged salads and cut vegetables, based in California's Central Valley. The company was founded in 1995. As many American produce suppliers do, it has subsidiaries in Mexico where it grows produce in the winter.

FDA officials said they inspected the Taylor Farms de Mexico facility in 2011 and “found no notable issues.”

The agency plans to increase its surveillance of green leafy products being imported into the country from Mexico.

The Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals and the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services say they do not believe the contaminated salad mix is still in the food supply in those states.

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