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McDonald’s Switches Salad Blend After Foodborne Illness Outbreaks in Chicagoland and Iowa

About 3,000 Midwestern restaurants were affected

A McDonald’s salad served at its Chicago headquarters.
Ashok Selvam
Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

McDonald’s is in the process of switching the lettuce blends used in its salads at 3,000 of its Midwestern locations following an intestinal illness outbreak that affected 90 people in the Chicago area and another 15 in Iowa. The Illinois health department began seeing cases develop in mid-May, as about a quarter of the Cook County victims reported eating a McDonald’s salad before suffering from cyclosporiasis, an intestinal malady caused by a parasite. Symptoms include diarrhea and fatigue.

The fast-food giant also stopped serving salads at the impacted locations until they can switch out the lettuce blend, according to a statement. All 15 of the Iowa cases involved McDonald’s salads. Those cases are from late June and early July. It takes about a week for symptoms to pop up after eating contaminated foods. Victims should visit a doctor who could prescribe antibiotics.

Meanwhile, McDonald’s is cooperating with health department officials. As a precaution, they’re voluntarily switching out salad blends at the approximately 3,000 restaurants in their Midwestern region, according to statement. The switch involves lettuce from a different supplier.

The Midwestern region includes 14 states: Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota, Montana, North Dakota, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Missouri.

See McDonald’s full statement below.

“McDonald’s has been in contact with public health authorities from Iowa and Illinois about an increase in Cyclospora infections in those states. Out of an abundance of caution, we decided to voluntarily stop selling salads at impacted restaurants until we can switch to another lettuce blend supplier. We are in the process of removing existing salad blend from identified restaurants and distribution centers — which includes approximately 3,000 of our U.S. restaurants primarily located in the Midwest.

McDonald’s is committed to the highest standards of food safety and quality control. We are closely monitoring this situation and cooperating with state and federal public health authorities as they further investigate.”