McDonald’s restaurants in seven states are currently being linked to 61 victims sickened with a parasite after eating salads served at several of its fast food restaurants, according to state and federal officials.
One of those sickened was Jennifer Smith, an Illinois resident who became the first customer to file a lawsuit against the Chicago-based chain. She is seeking damages in excess of $50,000, according to a complaint filed Monday by Smith’s two law firms.
Lead attorney Ron Simon of Houston-based Ron Simon & Associates said Smith was a frequent diner at a McDonald’s in Washington, Illinois. In May and June, she specifically bought salads. According to her suit, she became extremely sick around June 5, suffering from cramps, nausea and diarrhea.
She was later diagnosed with cyclosporiasis, an intestinal illness caused by a microscopic parasite.
“Nobody expects to be infected by a parasite when eating salad from McDonald's,” Smith’s attorney Ron Simon said in a statement. “But that is exactly what happened here. In this litigation, we will determine how this contamination occurred and prevent it from happening again.”
McDonald’s could not be reached immediately for comment on Monday. Last week, the company reiterated its commitment to providing high standards of food safety in its restaurants.
Smith is one of several cases in the Midwest tied to the intestinal disorder.
Last week, Illinois state health officials said a portion of the state’s 90 cases have been tied to salads served at McDonald’s restaurants. Iowa has also linked 16 cases to McDonald’s salads.
Late Friday, the Food and Drug Administration, the Center for Disease Control, and state and local health officials said they are currently investigating several cyclospora illnesses associated with McDonald’s locations in Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
To date, McDonald’s has temporarily halted salad sales in roughly 3,000 impacted restaurants in 14 states as it looks for a new lettuce blend supplier. That includes at least one restaurant in the following states: Ohio, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota, Montana, North Dakota, Kentucky, West Virginia and Missouri.
“We are closely monitoring this situation and cooperating with state and federal public health authorities as they further investigate,” the company stated last week.
Smith ate a Southwest salad, which contains a blend of lettuces.
“I figured eating lettuce, and eating vegetables is the way to go, but now I’m just really concerned,” she told NBC News last week.
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