New reports show that your favorite place for french fries is making people sick from its salads. Federal health officials say they’ve confirmed more than 500 cases of people who became sick with an intestinal illness after eating McDonald’s salads.
The illnesses reported earlier this year are linked to the cyclospora parasite, which can cause a number of bodily issues including vomiting and pain. The Food and Drug Administration said Friday that 507 cases have been confirmed.
The latest report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that the outbreak has affected people in 15 states, though the infected salads were apparently only sold in 11 states.
States with cases include: Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin. Officials also said people sickened in Connecticut, Florida, New York City, Tennessee, and Virginia had traveled in Illinois and Kentucky.
At least 24 people have had to be hospitalized. There have been no reported fatalities.
The latest numbers may be higher, according to the CDC. Cyclospora takes up to six weeks to mature and cause symptoms, so anyone infected after the second week of July may not have developed symptoms yet.
Cyclospora is mainly transmitted through infected feces in food or water. It is unlikely for cyclospora to pass directly from one person to another, according to the CDC. Symptoms include watery diarrhea, loss of appetite, weight loss, cramping, bloating, intestinal gas, nausea, and fatigue, according to the CDC. Some patients may start vomiting or develop low-grade fevers, but these are less common.
McDonald’s stopped the sale of salads at 3,000 restaurants last month until it could find a different supplier. The FDA says it’s still investigating the supplier of romaine lettuce and carrots. The FDA discovered that bags of Fresh Express vegetable mix containing carrots and romaine lettuce were contaminated with cyclospora on July 26.This salad mix was likely the source of at least some of the contaminated McDonald’s products. Earlier lots from the same source could have been involved at the beginning of the outbreak, but it is too late to be certain.Fresh Express, located in Streamwood, IL, sold some the contaminated product to Caito Foods LLC of Indianapolis, which used the vegetable mix in prepackaged salads and wraps that it shipped to various retailers.