By: Pooja Sharma

Four separate multi-state outbreaks linked to Maradol Papayas imported from Mexico has finally ended. The outbreaks has been coming out one by one since March 2017. The other 3 came to light between July and August. The strains of Salmonella affected 251 people in total with Salmonella Thompson affecting 144, Kiambu – 54, Anatum – 20, Agona – 12, Gaminara and Urbana – 7, Newport and Infantis – 4, Senftenberg – 3. All of these outbreaks and strains together affected a total of 25 states. Most of the cases were reported from New York and New Jersey. With Virginia, Maryland and Massachusetts affected at a moderate level.

Four brands of Maradol papayas that were recalled are:

  • Caribena Brand Papayas: These were distributed from July 10 – July 19. These papayas can be identified easily with the name of the brand mentioned clearly on the product with a red, green and yellow sticker.
  • Cavi Brand Papayas: These papayas were imported from Carica de Campeche farm – one of the 4 farms whose papayas were contaminated with Salmonella serotypes and were the source of the outbreak. Not all the Cavi brand papayas were recalled. Only the ones that were being imported from this particular farm were recalled. They were sold in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut from July 16 – July 19. These papayas have “cavi mexico 4395” written on them on a purple, green and black sticker.
  • Valery: These papayas were distributed in the country between July 10 – July 13. These brand of papayas have a packaging with red, yellow and green stickers with Valery written in yellow letters.
  • Frutas Selectas Brand: These papayas were distributed in the state of California from August 10 – August 29. They have a red, yellow, and green sticker with Frutas Selectas De Tijuana written in yellow letters on the green part of the sticker.

If you have Maradol papayas from any of these brands at your home, it is best to throw them away. It is also a good idea to check the recalls and recall notices. And if you are eating at a restaurant that is serving papayas, make sure you ask them the brand of papayas. A lot of people are still unaware of the outbreak and the risk. In case, you have a hard time in identifying what Maradol papayas really are, they are an oval fruit that generally weighs 3 pounds or more. They are yellow on the outside and turns salmon colored when they ripe.

The four firms associated with the recalls are Grande Produce, Bravo Produce, FreshTex and Agro Son’s. All of them have been very supportive and have helped the FDA recall all the produce on time protecting a lot of people from the infection. Since 2011, all the imported papayas from Mexico is screen tested and documented by which we mean they all should test negative for any foodborne illnesses / infections before entering USA. The companies or farms that wants to be added to the green list of IA 21-17. These are the terms and conditions set by the FDA. On the other hand, the farms or companies who wish to get removed from the red list must provide appropriate documentation to make sure they have taken appropriate measures to prevent contamination.

The 4 Mexican farms that have been associated with this Salmonella multi-state outbreak are:

  • Rancho El Ganadero located in Colima, Mexico
  • Carica De Campeche located in Tenabo, Campeche, México
  • El Zapotanito in La Huerta located in Jalisco, Mexico
  • Productores y Exportadores de Carica Papaya  de Tecomán y Costa Alegre Tijuana located in Baja California, Mexico.

FOUR OUTBREAKS:

First One:

This outbreak was linked to the Salmonella Anatum serotype and the papayas were imported by Bravo Produce. A total of 20 people fell ill in this outbreak. 18 of them belonged to California and the other 2 were from Arizona and Colorado respectively. One death was reported from California among those infected. Illnesses took place from December of 2016 to August 16, 2017. On September 4 2017, FDA reported Salmonella Anatum in some samples of papayas exported from Productores y Exportadores de Carica Papaya  de Tecomán y Costa Alegre Tijuana located in Baja California, Mexico. On September 10 2017, Bravo Produce recalled all the products.

Second One:

The second outbreak ran from July 19, 2017 – August of 7, 2017. A total of 4 people were reported to have been affected during this outbreak. 4 people were from 4 different states – Illinois, Michigan, New York and Massachusetts. The Salmonella serotypes from this outbreak were Salmonella Newport and Salmonella Infantis. All the contaminated papayas were exported from Rancho El Ganadero farm and all of them were recalled.

Third One:

The third outbreak was linked to Salmonella Urbana infections. These papayas were imported from El Zapotalito in La Huerta located in Jalisco, Mexico. This outbreak lasted from July 23, 2017 – August 14, 2017. It affected 3 states in total and reported a total of 7 illnesses – New Jersey (5), New York (1) and Pennsylvania (1).

Fourth Outbreak:

This was the biggest outbreak of all and affected a total of 220 people. Most of the illnesses were reported from New York (71) and New Jersey (41). It included a total of 5 serotypes of Salmonella – Kiambu, Thompson, Agona, Gaminara and Senftenberg. These papayas were exported from Carica De Campeche farm located in Tenabo, Campeche, México. Grande Produce, Agro Son’s and Freshtex produce were the companies associated with the export. All of these papayas were recalled in August.

Salmonella causes one million illnesses in the US each year. Even though it usually isn’t life threatening, it can cause complications in several people more than others like those with impaired immune function, children, pregnant women, elderly etc. Look for common symptoms of Salmonella such as bowel disorder, vomiting, and abdominal cramps. It usually takes about 48-72 hours for the symptoms to develop and the infection can last for anywhere between 4-7 days. Salmonella can cause severe dehydration, bacteremia and reactive arthritis (in some cases). Most people recover without treatment. But, it’s still necessary to consult a doctor considering the number of hospitalizations that have already happened in this outbreak.

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