As an outbreak of a food illness commonly linked to imported fruits and vegetables is spreading in Texas and 13 other states, the federal government released proposed rules Friday aimed at making such imports safer.
For the first time, the Food and Drug Administration would require U.S. businesses that import foods to verify that they are as safe as those grown or processed domestically. In addition, the rules establish an auditing and certification process to help determine whether to allow foods into the country that the FDA has flagged as potentially risky.
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Cause: Parasite from infected feces contaminates food or water.
Main symptom: Profuse diarrhea lasting weeks or months; may recur.
Other possible symptoms: Loss of appetite, fatigue, weight loss, abdominal cramps, bloating, nausea, vomiting and low-grade fever.
Timing: Symptoms appear within two days to two weeks of consuming contaminated food or water.
Treatment: Drinking plenty of fluids and antibiotics, when prescribed by a doctor.
Prevention: Thoroughly clean fruits and vegetables before eating, although that might not work.
Source: Texas Department of State Health Services
CORRECTION: This story has been corrected to reflect that cooking vegetables should kill the cyclospora parasite.