For additional details, please see: FDA intensifies cyclospora outbreak investigation
(UPDATED COVERAGE 8 p.m.) The Food and Drug Administration has named Taylor Farms' Mexican processing facility as the source of salad mix linked to cyclospora cases in Iowa in Nebraska.
The salads, served at Darden Restaurant-owned Olive Gardens and Red Lobsters and other restaurants, came from Taylor Farms de Mexico S de RL de CV. Of the 12 Taylor Farm processing plants, it is the only one in Mexico.
In announcing the salad processor/supplier of the lettuce, the FDA said it is "increasing its surveillance efforts on green leafy products exported to the U.S. from Mexico."
No salads sold at retail have been implicated in the outbreak. State health officials have said the mix contained iceberg and romaine lettuces and cabbage and carrots.
More than 400 people in 16 states have become sick with cyclopora in recent weeks, but the FDA is not connecting the Taylor Farms de Mexico product with illnesses in the other 14 states.
"It is not yet clear whether the cases reported from other states are all part of the same outbreak. The investigation of increased cases of cyclosporiasis in other states continues," according to the FDA news release announcing the update on the investigation.
The FDA and Taylor Farms de Mexico plan to conduct tests on the Mexican facility to pinpoint the source of the cyclospora and also put processes in place to avoid a recurrence, according to the release. The last time the facility was inspected was in 2011; no "notable" issues were detected then, according to the FDA news release.
The FDA named Taylor Farms de Mexico as the supplier of the salad on Aug. 2, one week after the agency released rules relating to imports as part of the Food Safety Modernization Act.
The company has been cooperating with the FDA, according to the FDA release.
The company, which uses a proprietary wash system called SmartWash in its processing facilities, tests all water sources, fields and each lot of product shipped, according to a statement on Taylor Farms' website posted Aug. 3.
"We are redoubling and enhancing our testsing and scrutiny in these areas to further assure food safety," according to the statement.
The Mexico operation has an "exceptional" food safety record, from fields to finished product, according to the company.
Taylor Farms and state health officials said the product linked to the outbreak is no longer in the supply chain, and salad mix currently available is safe to eat.
Mexican authorities, including the National Agro-Alimentary Health, Safety and Quality Service (SENASICA) are working with the FDA on the investigation, according to the release.