New FDA Safety Blueprint and Cyclospora Warnings for Fresh Express Salads

Over 546 people have been sickened by bagged salad products containing iceberg lettuce, red cabbage, and carrots due to Cyclospora contamination. According to the Illinois Department of Health, “the outbreak appears to be ongoing” and there is a 3-6 week lag between exposure to Cyclospora and confirmation of an outbreak.

These are the symptoms of Cyclospora infection. Any bagged lettuce or salad products should be checked using the guide at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Public Health Agency of Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency are investigating the same Cyclospora outbreak in Canada, also linked to Fresh Express products. There are over 37 cases in Canada to date.

Fresh Express’ Streamwood, IL facility has recalled branded and private labeled bagged salads with a Product Code beginning with the letter “Z” followed by the number “178” or lower.

Restaurant managers should check their inventory with the recall list. Fresh Express products are commonly used in some restaurants. Products were sold in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Wisconsin, under either the brand name Fresh Express or the following store brands:

  • ALDI Little Salad Bar
  • Giant Eagle
  • Hy-Vee
  • Jewel-Osco Signature Farms
  • ShopRite Wholesome Pantry
  • Walmart Marketside

FDA Food Safety Blueprint

Also today, after four months of delay due to the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released its 10-year blueprint called New Era of Smarter Food Safety. Restaurant owners who want to print the PDF for reading can download it here.

The FDA’s YouTube announcement focuses on technological solutions to contamination tracing and artificial intelligence systems to monitor food safety. Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn says that the Blueprint is “the next stage” of the Food Safety Modernization Act which President Barack Obama signed into law in 2011. 

Today’s Blueprint is “a commitment we are making to the American people that we will work as fast and effectively as we can, as fast and effectively as we can, to help ensure that we have the safest food system in the world,” according to Dr. Hahn.

There are four “core elements” of the Blueprint:

  1. Tech Enabled Traceability
    • “Rapidly trace a contaminated food to its source. And when I say rapidly, I mean minutes, not days, weeks, or even longer.”
  2. Smarter Tools and Approaches for Prevention and Outbreak Response
    • “Attain better quality data, conduct a more meaningful analysis of it, and to transform streams of data into more meaningful, strategic, and prevention-oriented actions.”
  3. New Business Models and Retail Modernization
    • “Help ensure that as these foods travel to our front doors, they continue to be safe for consumers… ensure that as food technology evolves, our oversight evolves… supporting practices in retail establishments known to reduce the risk of food contamination, such as proper handwashing and storing foods at the right temperature.”
  4. Food Safety Culture
    • “We still believe that to make dramatic reductions foodborne disease we must do more to influence and change human behavior, as well as to address how employees think about food safety.”

The FDA has assigned two senior executives as leaders of each of the four Core Elements, plus one implementation lead, composing nine leaders in total.

Photo by Jonathan Ybema on Unsplash

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