Food Safety Magazine

News | August 2, 2013

FDA IDs Taylor Farms de Mexico As Source of Cyclospora Contamination

By Heidi Parsons


On August 2, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) identified Taylor Farms de Mexico, S. de R.L. de C.V. — a processor of foodservice salads — as the source of the cyclosporiasis outbreak in Iowa and Nebraska. According to an NBC News report, the Mexican processor "is part of Taylor Farms, a Salinas, CA-based firm that supplies lettuce and cut vegetables to national restaurant chains and grocery stores."

The agency said its traceback investigation found that illness clusters at four restaurants were linked to a common supplier: Taylor Farms de Mexico, S. de R.L. de C.V. The FDA’s investigation has not implicated consumer packages sold in grocery stores.

On July 30, 2013, the states of Iowa and Nebraska had announced that their analysis pointed to a packaged salad mix as the source of the Cyclospora parasite responsible for the illness outbreak. In confirming that conclusion today, FDA officials noted that it is unclear as yet whether the cases reported from other states are all part of the same outbreak. The agency said its investigation into increased cases of cyclosporiasis in other states continues.

In addition, the agency stated that Taylor Farms de Mexico, S. de R.L. de C.V. has been cooperating with all FDA requests during the investigation. The FDA and the firm will be conducting an environmental assessment of the firm's processing facility in Mexico, to try to determine the probable cause of the contamination and identify preventive controls that could be instituted to help prevent a recurrence. The most recent FDA inspection, in 2011, of the processing facility of Taylor Farms de Mexico, S. de R.L. de C.V.  found no notable issues.

FDA officials pointed out that as a result of the current investigation, the agency is increasing its surveillance efforts on green leafy products exported to the U.S. from Mexico. The agency added that Mexican food regulatory authorities — the Federal Commission for Protection against Sanitary Risks (COFEPRIS) and the National Agro-Alimentary Health, Safety and Quality Service (SENASICA) — are collaborating with FDA in the outbreak investigation.