According to a recent CDC survey, 1,600 people nationwide have been sickened by a parasite known as cyclospora since May 1st. Cyclospora isn’t commonly discussed throughout the food industry, and most outbreaks are often traced back to food and water consumed internationally. Due to the high number of recent domestic cases, some in our state, some in MN, we created a Servsafe guide to cyclospora illness in Minnesota.
Our Servsafe guideline to identifying Cyclospora are common symptoms such as:
- Watery diarrhea (most common)
- Loss of appetite
- Increased gas
ServSafe and the Prevention of Cyclospora Illness
Cycloporiasis is an intestinal illness caused by a parasite. This parasite is spread through contaminated food and water and has an incubation period of approximately two weeks, making it difficult to trace.
This parasite is spread through food contaminated with fecal matter. There can be a few ways that food can become contaminated:
- Food prepared by unwashed hands
- Food that has come in contact with sewage backup
- Raw ingredients grown on farms with infected water supplies
ServSafe guidelines to prevent Cyclospora recommend CFPMsmust closely monitor and enforce handwashing policies in their facility. If one of your staff unknowingly carries the cyclospora parasite and fails to properly wash their hands after using the restroom, they could spread ill effects to your guests.
It should be common sense, but ServSafe managers need to be very careful whenever there are plumbing or sewage issues in their place of business. Even a small amount of contaminated water can infect food, leave parasites on boxes, equipment and food preparation surfaces. Always take care to dispose of the exposed product, sanitize work areas and ensure a clean working environment after any of these issues.
There are times where the spread of parasites may be out of your control. Make sure that you follow Servsafe protocol to inspect and wash all raw produce before using. If you or your staff handles unwashed produce, remember to wash your hands afterward. Dirty produce can transfer parasites and bacteria to your hands and potentially infect your guests if you neglect proper handwashing.
Are there any other foodborne illnesses you feel food safety community neglects?