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Taylor Farms of Mexico, a division of a California-based produce supplier whose greens go to national restaurants including Red Lobster and Olive Garden, shipped parasite-tainted salad mix that has sickened hundreds in Nebraska and Iowa, U.S. health officials said Friday.
Food and Drug Administration officials did not say whether the same bagged salad is tied to a cyclospora outbreak or outbreaks that have sickened at least 400 people in 16 U.S. states.
“The FDA traceback investigation found that illness clusters at four restaurant(s) were traced to a common supplier, Taylor Farms de Mexico, S. de R.L. de C.V.,” the FDA said in a statement.
Those restaurants included Olive Garden and Red Lobster, operated by Darden restaurants, a spokesman for the Orlando, Fla., firm confirmed.
“The FDA’s announcement today regarding Iowa and Nebraska is new information,” said Rich Jeffers, communications director for Darden. “Nothing we have seen prior to this announcement gave us any reason to be concerned about the products we’ve received from this supplier.”
FDA’s investigation did not implicate salad mix packages sold in grocery stores, officials said. As a result of the probe, the agency will step up surveillance of leafy products exported to the U.S. from Mexico.
The Mexican plant is part of Taylor Farms, a Salinas, Calif.-based firm that supplies lettuce and cut vegetables to national restaurant chains and grocery stores. Taylor Farms has 11 processing plants in the U.S. and one in San Miguel, Mexico, according to the company website…