John P. Olivo, President of Fresh Express has announced the release of an Interim Report by its Blue-Ribbon Panel on the Prevention of Foodborne Cyclospora Outbreaks and the availability of the report to the fresh produce industry timed to the current growing season in order to help protect public health.
In the spring and summer of 2018, multiple Cyclospora outbreaks occurred in the United States that were linked to various fresh produce items and their suppliers, including Fresh Express, some of which were also potentially sourced to U.S.- grown fresh produce. To address the outbreak concerns, which typically occur seasonally, Fresh Express formed a Blue-Ribbon Panel comprised of scientists with deep expertise in the biology of the Cyclospora cayetanensis organism, food safety, outbreak response and public health. The independent panel, chaired by infectious disease and food safety expert Dr. Michael T. Osterholm, was charged with studying the little-understood Cyclospora parasite and identifying controls to limit further outbreaks.
Following a November 18, 2018 meeting, the Blue-Ribbon Panel formed four distinct working groups focused on root cause assessment, preventive controls, collaboration and testing validation that met over several months to review existing information, research and data points and to form a more complete picture of the perplexing life cycle of the parasite, its dependence on on human hosts, factors affecting its infectivity, potential modes of transmission and, importantly, recommendations for mitigation against contamination and future outbreaks.
The Interim Report contains the preliminary findings, recommendations and ongoing priorities of the four working groups to more effectively curtail Cyclospora outbreaks going forward. The report also contains an easy-to-understand Fact Sheet about Cyclospora cayetanensis that outlines the illness and symptoms, testing methods, ways for growers, harvesters and handlers to reduce potential risk of contamination, and useful resources. The Fact Sheet can be easily printed, reproduced and shared.
The Interim Report also contains the full roster of those contributing to the comprehensive effort and is available on the Fresh Express website.
According to Dr. Osterholm, “This is an exceptional collaboration by those most knowledgeable about a particular food safety risk. Their value in shedding light on the Cyclospora cayetanensis outbreak problem cannot be overstated and is already providing long-needed assistance toward discovering how best to manage risk and limit future outbreaks.”
For more information:
Ph: +1 (214) 403-2005