McDonald’s salads have been linked to an outbreak of foodborne illness that has sickened dozens in recent weeks. Public health officials in Illinois and Iowa are investigating more than 20 cases in Illinois and another 15 cases in Iowa. Those who have fell ill say they had consumed McDonald’s salads within days of suffering symptoms.
Those affected have been diagnosed with Cyclosporiasis. The intestinal illness is caused by the Cyclospora parasite and symptoms include diarrhea, nausea, fatigue, and low-grade fever. In the past several years, several outbreaks of Cyclosporiasis connected to contaminated produce have occurred in the U.S.
In Illinois, public health officials have counted 90 cases of Cyclospora since mid-May. The Iowa Department of Public Health said it has spotted several clusters of Cyclospora this summer. Dr. Patricia Quinlisk, Iowa’s public health medical Director and epidemiologist, said, “Anyone who ate these salads since the middle of June and who developed diarrhea, especially watery diarrhea and fatigue, should see their health care provider and get tested for Cyclospora to ensure an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.”
Health officials in both states said McDonald’s is cooperating with the investigation. Illinois public health director Nirav Shah said, “Although a link has been made to salads sold in McDonald’s restaurants in some Illinois cases, public health officials continue to investigate other sources.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration are also assisting with the investigation.
The Illinois Department of Public Health said in its statement that McDonald’s is removing the salads and resupplying restaurants with salads from other sources. McDonald’s spokeswoman Terri Hickey said, “Out of an abundance of caution, we decided to voluntarily stop selling salads at impacted restaurants until we can switch to another lettuce blend supplier. We are in the process of removing existing salad blend from identified restaurants and distribution centers — which includes approximately 3,000 of our U.S. restaurants primarily located in the Midwest.”