UPDATE: Cyclospora outbreak tied to "prepackaged" salad - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: Cyclospora outbreak in Neb. and Iowa tied to "prepackaged" salad

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SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) -

A lot of us eat salad to stay healthy.  But, we've learned that certain prepackaged salad mix is behind that Cyclospora outbreak in Iowa and Nebraska.  It made about 180 people sick in the two states alone.

Cyclospora is a rare parasite that causes a lengthy gastrointestinal illness.  Health officials say cases first started showing up in June.

Nebraska health officials said the salad mix included iceberg and romaine lettuce, along with red cabbage and carrots, and came through national distribution chains.  They're still trying to identify the specific brand or brands involved in the outbreak.

The lettuce in question was not grown in Iowa or Nebraska.

The epidemiologic investigation by the Iowa Department of Public Health showed the salad mix is no longer in Iowa's food supply chain.  It revealed most had eaten the contaminated food in mid-June.  Since fresh produce has a very limited shelf life, they believe the food at the source of the outbreak has already been consumed or discarded.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 372 cases of the Cyclospora infection have been reported in 15 states, but not all of these states have linked the illness to the salad mix.

Since the salad in question was already "pre-washed", some might question whether it's important to "re-wash" prepackaged vegetables.

Health experts say no.  According to the FDA, if it's "pre-washed" and "ready to eat" you can use the produce without further washing.  However, if you choose to wash this type of product be sure to use safe handling practices to avoid any cross contamination.  That's because it can actually introduce new bacteria to the food instead.

ISU Extension Nutrition and Health Specialist Renee Sweers says how you wash vegetables and fruits is equally as important.  A quick rinse doesn't do the trick.

Sweers said don't be afraid to eat fresh produce, but do take steps to properly wash them.  Iowa public health officials encourage people to make fresh fruits and vegetables part of their daily diet.

 

Click here for the Iowa Department of Public Health News Release.

Click here for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services News Release.

 

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