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Illinois Salad Producer Has Third Food Poisoning Incident in Last Three YearsThe number of people who have been affected by the cyclospora salad outbreak has increased since we last reported it in June. As of July 24, 641 people in 11 states are confirmed to have contracted cyclospora, as well as more than 100 other people in Canada. Illinois has been the state with the most people infected, with 241 reported cases. Dozens of people have been hospitalized but no one has died. The cyclospora outbreak was linked to garden salads produced by Fresh Express in its Streamwood, Illinois, facility. Fresh Express has recalled the packaged salads, which were sold under various names at Jewel-Osco, ALDI, Walmart, Giant Eagle, Hy-Vee, and ShopRite. The fact that this is the third food poisoning outbreak in three years connected to Fresh Express and its Streamwood facility gives an additional reason for concern.

2018 Cyclospora Outbreak

From May to July in 2018, 511 people from 15 states, including Illinois, contracted cyclospora after eating salads sold at McDonald’s restaurants in the Midwest. Fresh Express was the supplier for McDonald’s salads at the time, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration reported that a package of romaine lettuce and carrots from the Streamwood facility had tested positive for cyclospora. McDonald’s stopped selling salads that it purchased from Fresh Express and switched to a different supplier.

2019 E. Coli Outbreak

In November 2019, 10 people from five states, including one from Illinois, contracted a strain of E. coli that the FDA believed originated from Fresh Express Sunflower Crisp chopped salad kits. The strain of E. coli was different from the strain in a concurrent incident involving contaminated romaine lettuce grown in California. The FDA was unable to determine which ingredient in the salad kit was contaminated and announced that the outbreak was over on Jan. 15.

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Developing Reactive Arthritis After Food PoisoningA case of food poisoning can affect your health long past your initial symptoms. One such lingering malady is reactive arthritis, a form of joint pain that can occur after your body has recovered from a bacterial infection. Reactive arthritis is uncommon – not everyone who contracts the same strain of bacterial infection will develop it – but can be very painful and last for several months, if not longer. If you can trace your reactive arthritis back to your food poisoning case, you may be able to file a lawsuit to receive compensation for your illness.

How Do People Get Reactive Arthritis?

Reactive arthritis is a form of rheumatoid arthritis that gets its name from researchers believing that it is an autoimmune disorder that reacts to a bacterial infection. For some people, their immune system continues to respond to the initial bacterial infection, causing inflammation in their joints. Reactive arthritis can occur after contracting a food-borne illness or a sexually transmitted infection. Food poisoning cases associated with reactive arthritis include:

Studies show that reactive arthritis most commonly occurs in people age 20 to 40 and that some people are genetically more prone to developing the condition.

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Cyclospora in Salads Sickens Dozens in IllinoisMore than 200 people in the midwestern U.S. have been diagnosed with cyclosporiasis after eating packaged salads sold in grocery stores. Illinois is one of the states that has been most affected by the cyclospora outbreak, with at least 57 people having been diagnosed from May 11 to June 17. The contamination has been traced to Fresh Express salad packages that contain iceberg lettuce, red cabbage, and carrots. The product goes by different names depending on where the product is sold, including:

  • ALDI Little Salad Bar Garden Salads
  • Hy-Vee Garden Salad
  • Jewel-Osco Signature Farms Garden Salad
  • Walmart Marketside Classic Iceberg Salad

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is still investigating whether there are additional contaminated Fresh Express salad packages that are sold under other names.

Dangers of Cyclosporiasis

At least 23 of the people recently diagnosed with cyclosporiasis have been hospitalized because of the severity of their symptoms. Cyclosporiasis is an intestinal infection caused by consuming food or drink that contains the cyclospora parasite. Cyclospora is most commonly found in produce that is grown in tropical climates, where the parasite is most prevalent and can spread from the feces of humans and animals who have it.

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Nuts Have History of Food Poisoning OutbreaksWhen people mention the health risks associated with eating nuts, allergies may be what first comes to mind. Many parents are aware of how exposure to nut products can endanger children with nut allergies. Food manufacturers and sellers can be liable if a person has an allergic reaction because the product did not disclose that it contained nuts. However, there have also been several instances in the U.S. of food poisoning that is related to nuts being sold in stores. Though they are rarer than allergic reactions, the outbreaks can be harmful to those who consume the contaminated nuts.

Illinois Company Recalls Macadamia Nuts

NOW Health Group Inc. has voluntarily recalled packages of macadamia nuts because of potential salmonella contamination. The Illinois-based company discovered the contamination when testing one of its macadamia nut lots, some of which had already been packaged and sent to retailers. The recall applies to packages that are labeled “NOW Real Food Raw Macadamia Nuts” with a best by date of 01/2021. Symptoms from a salmonella infection can take six hours to six days to appear and usually include diarrhea, cramping, and fever. Severe cases may require hospitalization or antibiotics.

Though this case applies to macadamia nuts, past food poisoning cases have involved a variety of shelled and unshelled nuts:

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What Are the Different Types of Botulism?Botulism is a rare but dangerous bacterial infection that is often caused by food poisoning. Symptoms from botulism start with weakness in the face, which can cause blurred vision, slurred speech, and difficulty breathing and swallowing. Symptoms continue down the body, often causing abdominal pain and vomiting. A mild case of botulism can take weeks to months to recover from, while a severe case could take years. If left untreated, botulism is potentially fatal. One of the tricky aspects of tracking the origin of a botulism case is that there are multiple ways that a person can contract the botulinum toxin. Knowing which type of botulism you have can determine whether you will be successful in filing a food poisoning lawsuit:

  1. Foodborne Botulism: The most common form of botulism is the type that you get from eating contaminated food. When processed foods are not properly sealed, the botulinum toxin is able to grow to the point that it becomes dangerous for consumption. Botulism is commonly associated with canning fruits and vegetables at home, when people may not tightly seal their preserved foods. However, it is also possible to contract botulism from commercially processed foods.
  2. Infant Botulism: Infants can develop botulism when spores in their intestines grow and become toxic. An infant’s digestive system is not able to fully break down spores that naturally appear in foods such as honey. As a result, the spores may linger in their intestines and grow.
  3. Adult Intestinal Toxemia: Similar to infant botulism, some adults have difficulty digesting spores, allowing them to become toxic bacteria inside the digestive tract. This is a rare condition that is most likely to occur in someone who has pre-existing gastrointestinal problems.
  4. Wound Botulism: People can develop botulism if bacteria infect an opening on the body and become toxic. Wound botulism most commonly occurs with people who suffer a severe injury or use drugs that they inject into their bodies.
  5. Iatrogenic Botulism: You may have heard of botulinum toxin used by another name: Botox. Cosmetic surgeons inject small amounts of the botulinum toxin into patients’ faces in order to remove wrinkles. An overdose of the botulinum toxin can cause botulism.

Contact an Illinois Food Poisoning Attorney

People diagnosed with botulism may be able to quickly narrow down the likely source of their infection if they have never had cosmetic injections, are drug-free, or have not suffered serious wounds recently. An Illinois food poisoning lawyer at Newland & Newland, LLP, will help you track down the source of your foodborne illness. Schedule a consultation by calling 312-981-0409.

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