According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Cyclospora cayetanensis is a nasty microscopic parasite that can cause an intestinal infection called cyclosporiasis. We won't go into the details about what cyclosporiasis does – although the CDC uses the words "sometimes explosive" to describe it.
Although no illnesses have been reported to date, Trader Joe's has issued a statement urging customers in 11 Midwestern states to throw out three products that they might've recently purchased, because of romaine lettuce that could be contaminated with Cyclospora.
The affected products include the following:
- Trader Joe's Tarragon Chicken Salad Wrap
- Trader Giotto's Caesar Salad with Chicken
- Trader Ming's Chinese Inspired Salad with Chicken
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has issued its own warning about the romaine lettuce, which was all distributed by Caito Foods in Indianapolis, and produced by lettuce supplier Fresh Express. In addition to Trader Joe's, some other affected products were sold at Walgreens and Kroger. According to the USDA's list of potentially contaminated items, all of them have "Best if Sold By," "Sell By," "Best By," or "Enjoy By" dates between July 18 and July 23.
If the name Fresh Express sounds familiar, it's because the company has been in this situation before. In May, it reportedly supplied McDonald's with the lettuce that was connected to an outbreak of Cyclospora infections. According to CNN, more than 280 people were sickened, and 11 were hospitalized after eating Fresh Express lettuce in McDonald's salads.
As for this most recent — and ongoing — Cyclospora issue, the FSIS is just waiting to see how widespread this could be. "Illnesses might not have been reported yet due to the time it takes between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported," the agency said. "For Cyclospora infections this could take up to six weeks."
The FSIS suggests that any consumer who has experienced intestinal issues or is "concerned about the illness" should contact a healthcare professional.