Dozens of people appear to have contracted an intestinal parasite after eating McDonald’s salads in the Midwest in recent weeks, prompting the chain to pull salads from 3,000 locations.
According to USA Today, since mid-May, 20 people became ill after eating salads in Illinois, alongside another 15 who ate salads in late June or early July in Iowa. Other outlets are reporting as many as 90 cases in Illinois, although not all reported eating McDonald’s salads.
Specifically, these individuals contracted the cyclospora parasite. Symptoms can take over a week to appear, and can stick around for anywhere from days to months — they include most of the food poisoning standards like vomiting and cramps, alongside “diarrhea and frequent, sometimes explosive bowel movements.” In some cases, patients may improve and fall ill again over time.
Cyclospora can be treated with antibiotics — anyone in those states who has fallen ill after eating a McDonald’s salad since mid-May is recommended to see a doctor for possible treatment.
The Illinois Department of Public Health hasn’t traced the parasite to any one location, with cases appearing in multiple counties.
McDonald’s issued a statement suggesting that it was being extra-cautious in removing salads from the menu in the affected areas; the chain is on the lookout for another lettuce supplier in the meantime:
Out of an abundance of caution, we decided to voluntarily stop selling salads at impacted restaurants until we can switch to another lettuce blend supplier. We are in the process of removing existing salad blend from identified restaurants and distribution centers.