(UPDATED COVERAGE, 2:30 p.m.) Taylor Farms has returned to full production at its San Miguel, Mexico, facility that was partially shut down Aug. 9 after its foodservice salad mix was linked to cyclospora outbreaks in Iowa and Nebraska.
Officials are still trying to find the source of hundreds of cyclospora cases in 20 other states. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports there is no link between a cyclospora outbreak in Texas and the Taylor Farms salad mix.
The reopening of the Mexico plant follows an inspection by “more than 15 food safety professionals” with the Food and Drug Administration and Mexican government officials, Taylor Farms officials said in a statement on the company’s website.
In addition, Taylor Farms collected almost 1,200 samples for cyclospora testing — all tests were negative, according to Aug. 26 statements from the FDA and the Salinas, Calif.-based company.
“From Aug. 11-19 the FDA, in cooperation with CDC and numerous Mexican regulatory agencies and over 15 food safety professionals, conducted a root cause analysis of the Taylor Farms de Mexico facility and five targeted ranches. The FDA found no indication of sources of cyclospora, evidence of cyclospora cross-contamination vectors or the presence of cyclospora in tests taken during this assessment,” according to the Taylor Farms statement.
“(Our) samples range from agricultural inputs (including) wells, irrigation water, soil to leafy greens tissue samples to sanitary waste samples. All analyses were conducted according to BAM Chapter 19A by a satellite laboratory in Mexico of an accredited parent laboratory headquartered in Washington State.
“Taylor Farms has reviewed thousands of other data points for the production dates in question and have found no irregularities that would indicate a potential for contamination.”
The FDA has consistently reported that Taylor Farms officials have cooperated fully with the investigation. Follow-up efforts at the Mexican fresh processing facility include what FDA describes as “a comprehensive cyclospora sampling program for leafy green and other products from their farms and processing facility in Mexico.”
New testing protocols include sampling of products and water and continued monitoring of the sanitary conditions of the facilities, the FDA update said.
As of Aug. 23, the CDC reported 610 people with confirmed cyclospora infections in 22 states. No deaths have been reported, but 43 people have been admitted to hospitals. More than half of the cases are in Iowa, Nebraska and Texas, with those states reporting 156 cases, 86 cases and 258 cases respectively.
However, the CDC reports preliminary analysis of a “cluster of cases that are at a Texas restaurant does not show a connection to Taylor Farms de Mexico.” Iowa and Nebraska health officials linked illnesses in their states to salad mix at Red Lobster and Olive Garden restaurants that was supplied by the Taylor Farms de Mexico facility.
“The findings in Texas differ from those from earlier investigations in Iowa and Nebraska,” according to the CDC update.
“It is not unusual to recognize outbreaks that happen in the same season but are due to different foods. For example, during a several-month period in 1997, there were three separate and unrelated outbreaks of cyclosporiasis caused by different fresh produce items from various sources.”