One of the latest dangerous food outbreaks is that much more proof that sometimes, convenience comes at a cost! So, if you’ve eaten a supposedly health salad from a fast food restaurant in the past couple of months, please keep reading…

Around mid-May, the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Iowa Department of Public Health reported an increase in cases of a parasitic outbreak known as cyclosporiasis. Since then, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a total of 286 people across fourteen states have been infected with the intestinal illness.

CDC Links Cyclospora Outbreak to McDonald’s Salads

Although no one is saying McDonald’s salads are the main cause of the cyclospora outbreak, the infamous fast food chain remains the culprit. Individuals between the ages of 16 and 91 started reported illnesses on May 20, 2018 to July 12, 2018. Although no deaths have been reported, 11 or more people have been hospitalized so far.

“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,” read a McDonald’s statement. “We are in the process of removing existing lettuce blend from identified restaurants and distribution centers – which includes approximately 3,000 of our U.S. restaurants primarily located in the Midwest.”

McDonald’s even removed the lettuce blend provided by the Streamwood, Illinois producer Fresh Express. The CDC highlighted McDonald’s quick action to limit the public’s exposure to potentially cyclospora-infected salads. So much so that they believe “there likely is not ongoing risk to consumers who eat at [the following] locations.”

Cyclosporiasis Outbreak Investigations: Map — United States, July 26, 2018

On July 13, McDonald’s confirmed that locations of the affected restaurants include:

  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Indiana
  • Wisconsin
  • Michigan
  • Ohio
  • Minnesota
  • Nebraska
  • South Dakota
  • North Dakota
  • Montana
  • Kentucky
  • West Virginia
  • Missouri

Even if you ate a salad after the dates above, you may not be 100% safe just yet. Cyclosporiasis can take up to six weeks for someone to notice it has affected them… According to noted food safety lawyer, Fred Pritzker, “a cyclospora infection can last for weeks or months if not treated. Anyone who ate a McDonlald’s salad and has been ill should see their doctor.”

How Do People Get Infected with Cyclosporiasis?

The intestinal illness known as cyclospora occurs when someone consumes foods or drinks tainted by the microscopic parasite. On average, infected individuals will start noticing some if not all of the symptoms below within seven days.

  • Watery diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Cramping
  • Bloating
  • Increased gas
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting
  • Low-grade fever

Tips for Consumers to Avoid a Cyclospora Infection

The following advice could save you a lot of pain and discomfort.

  1. If you’ve eaten a McDonald’s salad since May 20, 2018 and have had diarrhea, see your doctor and get tested for cyclospora infection.
  2. If you have a leftover McDonald’s salad purchased from any of the states above, throw it out.
  3. Run all your produce under water before even starting to prepare meals. (You can also try this all-natural antibacterial cleaner.)
  4. Wash your hands with soap and warm water before and after handling or preparing produce. This includes any cutting boards and utensils used.
  5. Store any produce – cooked or raw – safely away from raw meat, poultry, and seafood.