FDA Commissioner Discusses FDA’s Efforts to Prevent Foodborne Cyclospora Outbreaks
FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has issued a press release in the aftermath of this summer’s Cyclospora (C. cayetanensis) outbreaks in fresh produce, highlighting the Agency’s efforts to prevent outbreaks of this foodborne illlness. Cyclospora is an intestinal parasite that is spread through contamination of food with human waste.
FDA has been surveying the food supply to monitor for foodborne pathogens and recently added screening for Cyclospora. The Agency identified Cyclospora in cilantro as part of its ongoing surveillance this past summer. The cilantro, which was grown in the U.S., was not associated with any illnesses; it marks the first time that Cyclospora has been identified in a domestically-grown produce item. Gottlieb also stressed the importance of FDA’s Produce Safety rule under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) as a means for preventing foodborne illnesses at the farm level.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, there have been 2,173 lab-confirmed cases of Cyclospora in the U.S., across 33 states; less than half of these illnesses arose out of two outbreaks from May through August of 2018 from salad mix (511 cases) and from fresh produce trays with dips (250 cases). This marks an increased incidence of infection; however, some of this increase may be due in part to improved detection methods, rather than an increase in Cyclospora contamination in the food supply.