In August of 2018, John P. Olivo, President of Fresh Express announced the formation of a Fresh Express Blue Ribbon Panel. The panel, chaired by epidemiologist and infectious disease expert, Michael T. Osterholm, PhD, MPH, is charged with evaluating and summarizing the state of the science and public health aspects of the Cyclospora parasite, a common cause of recent outbreaks in the US, involving over 2,300 clinical case in 2018.
“The purpose of the Fresh Express Blue-Ribbon Panel is to assemble an interdisciplinary group of independent scientific experts to better understand Cyclospora's mode of action and how the industry can better guard against future outbreaks,” said Olivo in last year’s release.
PMA food safety expert Dr. Trevor Suslow was selected for the Blue Ribbon panel, bringing his technical and practical knowledge as well as his on-farm Rapid Response research experience. Dr. Suslow identified the following key takeaways from the report:
The biology of the parasitic pathogen Cyclospora cayetanensis is very different than the more familiar foodborne bacterial pathogens, such as shiga toxin-producing E.coli and Salmonella. Communication and knowledge transfer of these fundamental differences in the sources and routes of contamination to growers and handlers will be key to improving preventive controls.
Whether directly contaminated by hand-transfer or indirectly by contaminated water, or contaminated food contact surfaces, the only known host (source) of this pathogen is from humans.
Strong evidence is emerging that C. cayetanensis may have become a seasonal or resident environmental pathogen in our production farm watersheds and environment in the U.S. beyond our immediate southern borders.
Download the report now to read more.
Download the fact sheet.