A woman claiming she was infected by cyclospora, a parasite which has seen increased infection cases reported across the United States, is filing a lawsuit against Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI), the parent company of the Olive Garden.
Suzanne Matteis, the woman filing the lawsuit, contracted the infection in July and allegedly contracted the illness after eating at an Olive Garden, according to her attorney, Ryan Osterholm.
"We strongly believe she contracted the illness by eating at an Olive Garden and we have received calls for several weeks from others with similar illness after eating at Darden restaurants," Osterholm told the Orlando Sentinel.
As of Aug. 2, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported 400 cases of Cyclospora infections in the U.S. across 16 states and New York City.
Cyclospora, a single-celled parasite, causes an intestinal infection called cyclosporiasis, marked by symptoms such as diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea and fatigue, weight loss, loss of appetite, fever and other flu-like symptoms.
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According to the ongoing investigation by the CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the outbreak from the states of Iowa and Nebraska were traced back to a salad mix which was “supplied to restaurants in those states by Taylor Farms de Mexico, S. de R.L. de C.V., a processor of foodservice salads,” according to a press release by the FDA.
According to the same press release, the restaurants in Iowa and Nebraska that were supplied the salad mix include the Olive Garden and Red Lobster, both owned by Darden Restaurants.
A spokesperson for the restaurant chain told Reuters, “We are fully confident along with health officials that in those states the product is out of the supply chain.”
Taylor Farms de Mexico is the Mexican branch of Taylor Farms in Salinas, Calif.
The FDA hasn’t implicated any bagged salad available to consumers in grocery stores and both the CDC and FDA are continuing to investigate the source of the cyclospora outbreak outside of Iowa and Nebraska.