If you’re a hungry diner looking for culinary creativity, you probably aren’t headed to Olive Garden. The franchise’s offerings are predictable and dependable: no skimping on the chicken parm or bottomless breadsticks. But scores of people may have left Olive Garden establishments this summer with a surprise.
Starting in mid-June, more than 500 cases of cyclospora infection were reported in the U.S., with Texas, Iowa, and Nebraska residents being hit the hardest. Symptoms of the one-celled parasite include watery diarrhea and fatigue; the rest of the unappetizing information can be found on the CDC’s page.
On Tuesday, the FDA provided an update confirming that cases in Iowa and Nebraska were linked to contaminated salad mix from Taylor Farms of Mexico, which supplies restaurants like Olive Garden and Red Lobster. From the FDA report:
The FDA traceback investigation has confirmed that the salad mix identified by Iowa and Nebraska as being linked to the outbreak of cyclosporiasis in those states was supplied to restaurants in those states by Taylor Farms de Mexico, S. de R.L. de C.V., a processor of foodservice salads. The FDA traceback investigation found that illness clusters at restaurants were traced to a common supplier, Taylor Farms de Mexico, S. de R.L. de C.V. The restaurants in Iowa and Nebraska include Olive Garden and Red Lobster, both of which are owned by Darden Restaurants.
The FDA did not specify how many cases were linked to Olive Garden. Customers who fell ill after eating at Olive Gardens have filed lawsuits against Darden Restaurants, the parent company of the chain, in Ohio, Texas, Iowa, and Nebraska.
So, the source of the 238 cases in Iowa and Nebraska has now been pinned down, but what about the hundreds of other cases in Texas and 13 other states? What’s causing the holdup? Continue reading