Mexican cilantro may be infection source

via Moak: Mexican cilantro may be infection source, published on clarionledger.com, 8/6/2015.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been tracking a potent strain of an intestinal parasite called cyclospora cayetanensis, which causes an intestinal infection called cyclosporiasis and which can lead to a variety of severe gastrointestinal symptoms. So far, the CDC has identified 384 cyclosporiasis victims in 26 states. It’s not known whether Mississippi is included in that list. Clusters of the disease have been reported in Texas, Wisconsin and Georgia, according to the CDC.

Cyclosporiasis can make you very sick. Symptoms might include diarrhea, loss of appetite, weight loss, cramping, bloating, increased gas, nausea and fatigue. If you think you might be sick from eating any food, call your doctor as soon as possible.

The CDC has tracked the probable cause of the infection to fresh cilantro coming from the state of Puebla, Mexico. Cilantro (also known as coriander leaves) is a parsley-like herb, popular in Mexican dishes. Each year since at least 2012, cyclospora infections have been noted during the summer, but this year’s outbreak appears to be among the most severe, according to officials.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, along with the government of Mexico’s National Agro-Alimentary Health, Safety and Quality Service (SENASICA) and Federal Commission for the Protection from Sanitary Risks (COFEPRIS), are putting measures into place to better ensure the safety of cilantro shipments entering the United States, noted the FDA in an announcement last week.

The FDA and Mexican authorities inspected farms and facilities in Puebla and noted a variety of unsanitary conditions where the cilantro was being picked and processed.“Shipments of fresh cilantro from other states in Mexico will be allowed to enter and be released into the United States if sufficient documentation is submitted at entry demonstrating that the cilantro was harvested and packed outside of Puebla,” the FDA noted on its website. Additionally, the FDA, COFEPRIS, and SENASICA are working collaboratively to prepare a ‘Green List’ of companies in Puebla whose shipments of fresh cilantro will not be detained.”

In the meantime, the CDC urges consumers to be careful when preparing any fresh vegetables. Here are a few tips for safe handling:

  • Wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly under running water before eating, cutting or cooking. For firm fruits and vegetables, such as melons and cucumbers, use a clean produce brush, and cut away any damaged or bruised areas before preparing and eating.
  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water before and after handling or preparing fruits and vegetables.
  • Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils and counter tops with soap and hot water between the preparation of raw meat, poultry, and seafood products and the preparation of fruits and vegetables that will not be cooked.
  • Refrigerate any cut, peeled or cooked fruits and vegetables as soon as possible, or within two hours, and store them away from raw meat, poultry and seafood.

For more on the outbreak, visit this link.

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