Put down your desk lunch before reading: The Food and Drug Administration has issued a ban on cilantro from parts of Mexico after discovering the herb growing in Mexican fields was contaminated with human feces and toilet paper. Unsanitary cilantro may be responsible for illnesses dating back to 2012, the FDA said.
The discovery explains why cilantro has been associated with many cases of cyclosporiasis, an intestinal illness caused by parasites usually found in feces; the disease induces diarrhea and other irregular bowel movements. More than 304 people in the U.S. were diagnosed with it last year alone, many of whom had not traveled internationally prior to catching it.
FDA officials have pinpointed the growing fields in question to the state of Puebla, and will not allow products from there into the U.S. without proper examination. The 11 farms that were implicated either did not have toilets, or had restrooms devoid of soap, toilet paper, or running water.
The cyclosporiasis outbreaks were narrowed down to occurring between April and August each year, so Mexican cilantro will be detained at the border during that window; importers will also be required to show documentation to ensure their cilantro did not hail from Puebla.
The good news? You won’t have to boycott Chipotle or Taco Bell anytime soon: Both chains get their cilantro from California.