Health officials say McDonald’s salads are the likely source of a parasitic illness outbreak that has sickened almost 400 people across the United States.
According to the FDA, 395 cases have been reported across 15 states. Sixteen people have been hospitalized, but there have been no reported deaths.
The illness, caused by the cyclospora parasite, causes symptoms such as diarrhea and frequent, sometimes explosive bowel movements, as well as loss of appetite, weight loss, stomach cramps or pain, nausea, and fatigue, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Other symptoms can include vomiting, headache, fever, and body aches.
Symptoms can begin more than a week after consuming food contaminated with the parasite, and the illness can last a few days up to several months.
Earlier this month, McDonald’s said it would remove salads from the 3,000 restaurants that may have been impacted by the outbreak.
“Out of an abundance of caution, we decided to voluntarily stop selling salads at impacted restaurants until we can switch to another lettuce-blend supplier. We are in the process of removing existing salad blend from identified restaurants and distribution centers — which includes approximately 3,000 of our U.S. restaurants primarily located in the Midwest,” it said in a statement to Nation’s Restaurant News.
In late July, during an earnings call with investors, McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook said that the company had found a new salad supplier for those restaurants.
“All those restaurants have been fully replenished with a new supply and we continue to trade fully,” he said.