Nightly News   |  August 03, 2013

Processing plant blamed for cyclospora outbreak

With hundreds already sickened across 16 states, the FDA has made headway in tracking the source of the outbreak of cyclospora. Officials have now identified an American-owned salad processing plant in Mexico as the origin of cyclospora cases in Iowa and Nebraska. NBC’s Charles Hadlock reports.

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>>> back at home now with hundreds already sickened across 16 states, the fda has made headway in tracking the source of the outbreak. official advisory identified an american-owned salad processing plant in mexico as the origin of the cases in iowa and nebraska . so far the source of cases in 14 other states remains elusive. here's nbc's charles hadlock.

>> reporter: the fda says packaged salads, lettuce, carrots, and cabbage picked and processed in an american plant in san miguel , mexico , are the source of sickness in at least two states. the mexico plant is owned by tailor farms of salinas, california, and was last inspected by the fda two years ago. the fda says the contaminated salad mix in mexico was served in olive garden and red lobster restaurants in iowa and nebraska . in the first lawsuit related to the outbreak, a texas woman claims she was sickened in early july after eating at an olive garden in addison, texas . both brands are owned by darden restaurants , the defendant in this suit. a spokeman had no comment on the lawsuit, but said the company's texas restaurants are served by a different supplier, adding iowa and nebraska health officials have said this is not an ongoing outbreak and the product is no longer in the food supply in those states. darden is fully cooperating with the investigation. the last illness in iowa or nebraska was reported july 2nd . more than 400 people in 16 states have reported cases of cyclospora cases. what remains a mystery is why hundreds of people outside iowa and nebraska are still reporting the illness. health experts advise using caution when preparing fruits and vegetables.

>> look at the bag. they may say prewashed and so forth, but standards across the industry may vary. it's just a good rule of thumb , a good habit just to go ahead and wash them again.

>> reporter: in a statement tailor farms of mexico said every says it runs a state-of-the-art facility and is cooperating with the fda and their ongoing investigation. the fda says it's stepping up its inspection of all fruits and vegetables from mexico . charles hadlock, nbc news, fort worth .