Salad maker Fresh Express is facing a lawsuit filed by noted food lawyer Bill Marler on behalf of an Iowa couple – a man who says he was sickened by one of the company's salads and his wife, who took him to the emergency room.
Aldi, Hy-Vee and Jewel-Osco stores in a dozen states have recalled Fresh Express-distributed select salads "potentially linked" to Cyclospora infections, according to the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The agencies reported 122 confirmed illnesses and 19 hospitalizations – but no deaths – in Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Health officials say the illnesses occurred from May 11 to June 15.
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The investigation involves Cyclospora infections linked to bagged salad mixes containing carrots, red cabbage and iceberg lettuce purchased at the three supermarket chains. The microscopic parasite Cyclospora cayetanensis, which is spread through fecal matter, can cause symptoms including diarrhea, loss of appetite, weight loss, stomach cramps, bloating, increased gas, nausea and fatigue, according to the CDC.
Products were also recalled from stores in Arkansas, Indiana, Michigan, North Dakota, South Dakota.
Fresh Express did not immediately respond to a request for comment from USA TODAY.
This is not the first wave of recalls to hit the company. Its salads served at McDonald's in 2018 eventually sickened more than 500 customers. The fast food chain pulled the salads.
The suit charges Fresh Express with negligence in food safety failures. The lawsuit says Matthew Phillips got ill on June 3 and went to the hospital June 7 where he was put on an IV. After he was stabilized, Phillips was sent home, but a test confirmed evidence of Cyclospora and he continued getting medical treatment through June 20.
"It is highly likely that this outbreak will grow and that other stores will be implicated," said Marler, a Seattle-based food safety lawyer and one of the attorneys representing the Phillips of Centerville, Iowa.
Follow USA TODAY reporter Mike Snider on Twitter: @MikeSnider.