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FDA Cilantro Ban: Intestinal Parasite Linked To Fresh Cilantro

Fresh Cilantro

After an investigation into hundreds of reported cases of intestinal illness across the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a ban on some cilantro imported from Mexico.

The fresh cilantro believed to be behind the rash of outbreaks, which date back to 2012, originates in the state of Puebla, Mexico, according to the FDA.

Federal authorities believe that the reported intestinal illnesses seen in the U.S. to be the result of a microscopic parasite known as Cyclospora cayetanensis, which can cause the intestinal illness cyclosporiasis.

The symptoms of cyclosporiasis, which generally appear a week after the parasite has been ingested, include vomiting as well as diarrhea.

Cyclospora cayetanensis, which was virtually unknown before the 1990s, has been linked to fecally contaminated food.

Fecal contamination is not limited to food, as the preliminary findings of a recently conducted study by researchers at Quinnipiac University has found a link between toothbrushes and fecal matter that you may prefer not to learn more about. And an unrelated study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology has found beach fecal contamination to be more potent in sand than in water.

The FDA report on the recently banned cilantro cites “insanitary” and “objectionable conditions” ranging from human feces and toilet paper in the growing fields to inadequate hand washing facilities lacking soap and running water.

Conditions observed at multiple such firms in the state of Puebla included human feces and toilet paper found in growing fields and around facilities; inadequately maintained and supplied toilet and hand washing facilities (no soap, no toilet paper, no running water, no paper towels) or a complete lack of toilet and hand washing facilities; food-contact surfaces (such as plastic crates used to transport cilantro or tables where cilantro was cut and bundled) visibly dirty and not washed; and water used for purposes such as washing cilantro vulnerable to contamination from sewage/septic systems.

A joint inspection conducted by Mexican officials in Puebla and the FDA found eight out of the eleven cilantro farms and packing houses inspected to exhibit unsanitary practices.

Without proper growing documents, the FDA intends on preventing any fresh cilantro grown outside of Puebla to enter the United States between April 1 and August 31, CNN reports.

Fox News reports that cilantro selling Mexican companies that might be from Puebla must prove to health authorities that they’ve taken adequate health and safety measures in order to export products to the United States.

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