FDA: Mexicans Defecating in Farm Fields Getting Americans Sick

The FDA issued a warning on Monday that cilantro imported from Puebla, Mexico has caused outbreaks of intestinal disease in Texas and Wisconsin.

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The report by the FDA cited inspections that found human feces and toilet paper in fields where the cilantro was grown at several farms in Puebla.

“…From 2013 to 2015, FDA, SENASICA, and COFEPRIS inspected 11 farms and packing houses that produce cilantro in the state of Puebla, 5 of them linked to the US C. cayetanensis illnesses, and observed objectionable conditions at 8 of them, including all five of the firms linked through traceback to the U.S. illnesses. Conditions observed at multiple such firms in the state of Puebla included human feces and toilet paper found in growing fields and around facilities; inadequately maintained and supplied toilet and hand washing facilities (no soap, no toilet paper, no running water, no paper towels) or a complete lack of toilet and hand washing facilities; food-contact surfaces (such as plastic crates used to transport cilantro or tables where cilantro was cut and bundled) visibly dirty and not washed; and water used for purposes such as washing cilantro vulnerable to contamination from sewage/septic systems. In addition, at one such firm, water in a holding tank used to provide water to employees to wash their hands at the bathrooms was found to be positive for C. cayetanensis. Based on those joint investigations, FDA considers that the most likely routes of contamination of fresh cilantro are contact with the parasite shed from the intestinal tract of humans affecting the growing fields, harvesting, processing or packing activities or contamination with the parasite through contaminated irrigation water, contaminated crop protectant sprays, or contaminated wash waters…”

On Monday the Texas Department of State Health Services reported 205 cases of Cyclosporiasis in the state this year; in 2014 there 200 reported cases.

The FDA reported cited cilantro from Peuebla as the source of a Cyclosporiasis outbreak based around a single restaurant in Wisconsin.

…”in the 2015 outbreak Wisconsin officials have identified cilantro from the state of Puebla, MX as a suspect vehicle for a cluster of illnesses associated with a single restaurant….”

The AP reported the FDA has instituted a seasonal ban on the importation of cilantro from growers in Puebla, Mexico.

“The ban will only affect certain shipments of fresh cilantro from Puebla from April through August, corresponding to the timing of the outbreaks. The summer ban will continue in future years unless a company can prove to health authorities that its product is safe.”

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