FDA releases updates on its efforts to prevent Cyclospora

U.S – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released updates on its “Cyclospora Prevention, Response and Research Action Plan” efforts which was launched in 2021.

The action plan was developed by the agency’s Cyclospora Task Force and details FDA’s strategy for reducing the public health burden of foodborne cyclosporiasis in the U.S.

It also defines the agency’s priorities for Cyclospora food safety research and supports ongoing efforts to combat foodborne illness in alignment with FDA’s New Era of Smarter Food Safety initiative.

Since releasing the Cyclospora action plan, FDA has made progress on several goals including collaborating with the National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods to develop a charge document that will inform FDA’s prioritization of Cyclospora research and propose novel food safety research projects in collaboration with stakeholders.

 It has also implemented a genotyping approach for Cyclospora in environmental and food samples based on the same method published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

In addition, FDA has implemented a distance learning plan and a series of Cyclospora methodology training webinars on the “Bacteriological Analytical Manual (BAM) Chapter 19b – Detection of C. cayetanensis in Fresh Produce” using a real-time PCR-analytical method in Spanish, for regulatory lab personnel at food safety authorities in Mexico through the FDA-SENASICA-Cofepris Food Safety Partnership

The agency has further collaborated with CDC to publish an article in Food Safety Magazine summarizing the data on all cyclosporiasis outbreaks from 2013 to 2020.

It has delivered eight webinars directed to the fresh produce industry, regulators, and other stakeholders for Cyclospora outreach and educational purposes, and also completed a microbial survey of fresh herbs that included over 800 samples tested for C. cayetanensis.

FDA’s Cyclospora Task Force is partnering with stakeholders in industry, academia, and state government to support prevention and research efforts, to close knowledge gaps and make meaningful progress toward preventing and reducing incidences of cyclosporiasis in the U.S.

The agency states that cyclosporiasis outbreaks pose unique laboratory, traceback, epidemiological, and prevention challenges that are unlike foodborne illness outbreaks caused by bacterial pathogens.

Cyclosporiasis is a foodborne intestinal illness caused by the parasite Cyclospora cayetanensis (C. cayetanensis). People can become infected with Cyclospora by consuming food or water contaminated with the parasite. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there have been roughly 4,600 reported domestically-acquired cases of cyclosporiasis over the last 3 years. The number of reported cases typically rises during the spring and summer, from late May through August.

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