Thousands of Fresh Express salads were pulled from restaurants and grocery stores earlier this summer after the cyclospora parasite was found.
In response, the company is forming a Fresh Express Blue-Ribbon Panel to study the cylospora parasite and how it transfers to fresh produce and to address supply chain concerns. The panel will also collaborate and offer support to investigators at the FDA, CDC and state public health agencies.
"Recent cyclospora outbreaks, with limited evidence as to how they originated, have perplexed federal and state public health officials as well as food safety experts throughout the fresh produce industry, including Fresh Express," John P. Olivo, President of Fresh Express says. "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."
The United States has seen a number of cyclospora outbreaks this summer, and despite intensive investigation, officials have not been able to determine a confirmed origin for the outbreaks or understand contamination pathways.
"The multiple recent cyclospora outbreaks in the produce industry and their health consequences for consumers have gone too long without adequate explanation," says Olivo, "and it's time to focus on finding some answers."
Fresh Express will release a full roster of panel members soon with a final report and recommendations for the first quarter in 2019.