By: Heather Williams

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is now involved in the recall of select shipments of Maradol Papaya originating from Mexico.  The Salmonella infected papaya has been a concern for over a month.  Originally papayas from select farms distributed to the state of California from August 10 to 29, 2017 were flagged.  These products were available for sale to wholesale customers and retail consumers until August 29, 2017.  As the source is being identified, additional recalls have been made.  At least two other farms have been indicated.

Bravo Produce Inc. of San Ysidro has withdrawn the Maradol Papays grown from Productores y Exportadores de Carica Papaya de Tecomán y Costa Alegre SPR of RL and packed by Frutas Selectas de Tijuana, S. de RL de CV, as a preventative measure.  FDA testing has determined that the product was tested positive for Salmonella.

Affected Product Codes

Consumers can identify papayas by the label of the packing company, Frutas Selectas de Tijuana, S. de R.L. of C.V. It is important to clarify that Frutas Selectas de Tijuana, S. de R.L. of C.V., it is only the PACKER and therefore it puts its labels, but the grower of the Maradol Papaya is Productores y Exportadores de Carica Papaya de Tecoman y Costa Alegre S.P.R. de R.L.

The following product codes were affected:

  • 1222335215
  • 1222635220
  • 1222335216
  • 1223035223
  • 1223335227
  • 1223835233
  • 1222235215
  • 1222535220
  • 1222235216
  • 1222835223
  • 1223435230
  • 1222235216
  • 1222935223
  • 1222135214
  • 1222935223
  • 1222935223
  • 1222135214
  • 1222235216
  • 1222935223
  • 1223035223
  • 1222935221
  • 1223035223
  • 1223835233

Bravo Produce Inc. has notified all consignees where have been given the affected product by telephone and email, instructing them to destroy the papayas on store shelves and other commercial locations.  The FDA is participating in supervising the withdrawal of these potentially harmful products.

The FDA recall was initiated on September 8, 2017 after another Maradol papaya tested positive for Salmonella.  This papaya shipment was not distributed.  In an update, the FDA said that no papayas from these two additional farms are currently in the US market.  After the cargo was tested and identified positive for Salmonella they were not released for sale to US consumers.  Additionally, any earlier products from these growers would be past their shelf life.

Bravo Produce Inc. is working with the FDA and taking precautionary measures to ensure the safety of its imported products.  They are taking samples from each cargo and having them tested in a private laboratory authorized by the FDA to be sure they are not contaminated with Salmonella.  The company is cooperating with the FDA with the investigation and providing all possible assistance.

Consumers who have already bought papayas from Productores y Exportadores de Carica Papaya de Tecoman y Costa Alegre S.P.R. de R.L and with the packing label of Frutas Selectas de Tijuana, S. de R.L. of C.V. are advised not to consume the produce and destroy or discard any they may currently have. For more questions, you may contact Bravo Produce Inc. 01 (844) 891-7782. Calls will be received Monday through Saturday from 7:00 to 14:00 hours.

Additional Outbreaks Prompt Action

The initial outbreak that has everyone looking at Maradol Papayas has grown and now involves 23 states with a case count up to 201.  There has been 1 death so far and 65 have been hospitalized.  The fatality was in New York City, New York. The original outbreak was linked to the Carica de Campeche farm in Mexico.  The additional 2 outbreaks have come from 2 additional farms in Mexico.  Caraveo Produce and El Zapotanito are linked to these new outbreaks and are being investigated separately from the original outbreak.

Strains of Salmonella detected in an imported sample collected from Caraveo Produce presented the same DNA fingerprint as three patients linked to one outbreak.  Those patients were from Illinois, Massachusetts, and Michigan.  All three reported that they had eaten or possibly eaten papayas the week before they became ill.

The FDA found another unique strain of Salmonella found during testing of El Zapotanito papayas from La Huerta, Mexico matched the DNA fingerprint of the Salmonella that sickened 6 other people.  New York and Pennsylvania reported one illness each and 4 were sickened in New Jersey.  From interviews from 4 of those infected, 3 had eaten or possibly eaten papayas the week before they became ill.

The Feds became involved because the three separate outbreaks have been linked to three different farms.  The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is concerned that papayas from other farms in Mexico could also be contaminated with Salmonella and may have also make people sick.  The FDA continues testing papayas originating from Mexico to identify if other farms may be contaminated with Salmonella.  These investigations are ongoing and will determine if additional consumer warnings are warranted.  The CDC will provide additional updates as they become available.

CDC Recommendations

Salmonella is a very harmful bacterium that produces the illness salmonellosis.  Symptoms include fever, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.  Those who are very young, very old, and those with a compromised immune system are of higher risk.  In some situations, Salmonella can leave the digestive tract and enter the body, resulting in serious and life-threatening illness such as arterial infections and endocarditis.  Other more long-term effects include reactive arthritis.

The CDC recommends that consumers do not eat Maradol papayas from the Carica de Campeche, Caraveo Produce, or El Zapotanito farms originating in Mexico.  The CDC also recommends that restaurants not serve and retailers not sell Maradol papayas from those farms as well.  If you are unsure whether the papaya you have purchased is a Maradol papaya from one of the indicated farms, ask the place of purchase.  Restaurants and retailers should ask their suppliers.  If in doubt, be safe and do not eat, sell, or serve papayas.  It is best to just throw them out.  Be sure to wash and sanitize countertops as well as drawers or shelves in refrigerators where Maradol papayas were stored.

UnsafeFoods is continuing to monitor these outbreaks and will update as more information becomes available.

 

Sources:

https://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ucm575287.htm?source=govdelivery&utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery

http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2017/09/feds-link-2-more-salmonella-outbreaks-imported-papayas

https://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/kiambu-07-17/index.html