More than two dozen types of wraps and salads sold nationwide at grocery chains like Trader Joe's, Walgreens and Kroger's are being recalled due to concerns over a possible parasite contamination in the romaine lettuce, officials warn.
Federal health officials issued an alert Monday advising that certain beef, pork and poultry salads and wraps sold by grocery chains might have been contaminated with cyclospora. It's the same parasite that's sickened hundreds of McDonald's customers after they ate the fast-food chain's salads.
Experts with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the cyclospora parasite can cause intestinal illnesses in people after they consume contaminated food or water. Symptoms include diarrhea and frequent, sometimes explosive bowel movements. Vomiting, headache, body aches and flu-like symptoms can also sometimes occur.
People suffering from the cyclospora parasite illness can be sick anywhere from a few days to a few months. Patients will often start to feel better, only to relapse if they remain untreated. Cyclosporiasis is generally treated with a course of antibiotics.
According to the release from the US Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service, the issue was discovered after Caito Foods, an Indianapolis-based food supplier, received a notification from their lettuce supplier, Fresh Express, that some of the chopped romaine used in their products were being recalled.
Some of the products being recalled include those wraps and salads produced between July 15 to 18 with the "Best by," "Enjoy by," "Best if sold by" or "Sell by" dates between July 18 and July 23. The three products identified by Trader Joe's included the Trader Joe's Tarragon Chicken Salad Wrap, Trader Giotto’s Caesar Salad with Chicken and Trader Ming’s Chinese Inspired Salad with Chicken.
The USDA added that "some product may be in consumers' refrigerators and that consumers may be at risk due to the length of the cyclospora incubation period."
The incubation period for the cyclospora parasite ranges from two to 14 days and many people may not be sick yet, due to the time it takes between when a person becomes sick and reports that illness.
Federal officials say consumers who have purchased any of the recalled products should immediately throw them away or return them to the place of purchase.
News of this latest cyclospora infection comes following McDonald's announcement that many of their salads provided by Fresh Express were found to have cyclospora present. So far, 286 people have been diagnosed with the infection and at least 11 people have needed hospitalization since the outbreak began in May.
The latest recall adds to a series of notices issued by the Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service. Several products that contained whey-powder, including Honey Smacks, Hungry Man Dinners and Ritz Crackers, were recalled over possibly salmonella concerns.
Photo: U.S. Department of Agriculture