FDA links stomach bug outbreak in two states to Mexican farm, lo - KLTV.com-Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

FDA links stomach bug outbreak in two states to Mexican farm, local restaurants speak out

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The Food and Drug Administration announced that the recent outbreak of cyclospora in two states, a stomach illness, is linked to salad mix at Olive Garden and Red Lobster Restaurants in Iowa and Nebraska.

According to Rich Darden of Orlando-based Darden Restaurants, which owns both Olive Garden and Red Lobster, Texas Olive Garden's and Red Lobster's do not receive their salad mix from the same farm as those in Iowa and Nebraska.

"None at all," he said.

The outbreak of cyclospora infections has sickened more than 400 people in 16 states in all. The agency says it is working to determine whether the salad mix is the source of 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 agency said in a statement. "The investigation of increased cases of cyclosporiasis in other states continues."

Darden also said that salad mix has a shelf life of 14 days. The outbreak began in June, meaning any infected salad would be out of supply at this point.

In a statement, Darden spokesman Mike Bernstein said the FDA's announcement is "new information."

"Nothing we have seen prior to this announcement gave us any reason to be concerned about the products we've received from this supplier," Bernstein said.

The FDA said it traced illnesses from the restaurants in Nebraska and Iowa to Taylor Farms de Mexico, the Mexican branch of Salinas, Calif.-based Taylor Farms. The company, which provides produce to the food service industry, said its facility located about 180 miles north of Mexico City in San Miguel de Allende is the only 1 of its 12 sites to be connected to the cases.

In a statement on the company's website, Taylor Farms says the Mexican facility is "state of the art and has an exceptional food safety record." The statement said the company is working with FDA investigators who are looking at the facility and that the product is out of the food supply.

The agency said its investigation has not implicated packaged salad sold in grocery stores.

The salad mix may be out of the commercial food chain as the most recent known illness in those two states was in Nebraska a month ago. The typical shelf life for a salad mix is up to 14 days.

There have been more recent illnesses in other states. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the most recent illness was July 23.

Copyright 2013 KLTV. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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