UT University Health Services

Cyclospora - Foodborne Illnesses and Washing Fresh Produce

Certain types of foodborne illness are caused by eating something that has been contaminated with feces, such as imported fresh produce, including berries or leafy greens. These illnesses are not typically passed from one person directly to another because they take time to become infectious after being passed in a bowel movement. foodborne illnesses and washing fresh produce

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the most common symptom for such illnesses is watery diarrhea with frequent, even explosive, bowel movements. Other symptoms are loss of appetite, weight loss, stomach cramps/pain, bloating, nausea, and fatigue. Some patients could experience vomiting, body aches, headache, and other flu-like symptoms.

To prevent infection, take the following measures to wash and prepare fresh fruits and vegetables:

  • Run the produce under cold tap water to remove lingering dirt.
  • Scrub firm surfaces, like the skin of an apple or potato, with a brush.
  • Do not use detergents or soaps; they are not necessary and their residue should not be consumed.
  • Cut away bruised or damaged areas to remove places that bacteria thrive.
  • Immediately refrigerate fresh-cut items for best quality and food safety.

If you believe you have been infected with a foodborne illness, consult your healthcare provider. The UHS Nurse Advice Line is available at 512-475-6877.

For more information on foodborne illness and food safety, go to cdc.gov/foodsafety/facts.html

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