Monthly Archives: July 2017

Painting with a thin brush: salmonella and papayas

Maradol papayas are getting a lot of attention in the past few days, and not the good kind.
 
The Packer’s coverage of the food borne illness outbreak linked to Caribeña brand maradol papayas distributed by Grande Produce of San Juan, Texas is grabbing plenty of clicks.   Earlier coverage is found here and here
  
Looking at Google Trends (pictured), it is easy to see the escalation in search engine traffic beginning the afternoon of July 21.
 
While there has no recall issued on the FDA website as of the middle of the day Monday, one would presume that something may be coming this week.
 
Other papaya marketers are rightly concerned that the public may paint all varieties and sources of the tropical fruit with the same broad brush.
 
In fact, HLB Specialties issues a news release today reminding both the trade and consumers that its papayas were not implicated by health investigators. From the company’s release:
 

Pompano Beach, FL – In light of the recent Salmonella outbreak of July 2017, one of the largest papaya importers into the USA, HLB Specialties, is cautioning retailers and the media to make a clear distinction between the different papaya varieties, countries of origin, growers, and brands. The outbreak is limited to one specific papaya variety, Maradol, which is grown in Mexico. Papayas of other varieties and countries of origin have not been linked to the outbreak and are safe for consumption. 

Papayas are grown in many countries, including Mexico, Guatemala, Brazil, and the USA (Hawaii). Maradol Papayas are the large kind, weighing approximately three pounds and usually have a fully yellow skin when ripe. Tainung papayas are also large and similar to Maradol in size and weight, but they are greener and ready to eat when only half yellow. The small Brazilian Golden Papaya variety weighs around one pound and is also very sweet.

The company hopes to educate consumers on the different types of papaya in order to keep the public informed about the source of the outbreak. Melissa Hartmann de Barros, Director of Communications at HLB Specialties, notes “The safety of the consumers is our highest priority. We share their concern and caution, especially because people were sickened by the outbreak. But we also want to provide as much information as possible, so that shoppers can make an educated decision when buying papayas. Consumers can rest assured that the other large papaya variety Tainung as well as the small Brazilian Golden variety are not implicated and are safe for consumption.”

 

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Salmonella linked to Caribeña brand Maradol papayas from Mexico

A multistate outbreak of Salmonella infections was linked to a single brand of Maradol papayas from Mexico, but other varieties and brands have not been implicated, according to a leading importer of the tropical fruit.

On July 21, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention issued an advisory not to eat yellow Maradol papayas due to the possibility of the presence of Salmonella Kiambu, which to date has afflicted 47 people in 12 states. Twelve people have been hospitalized and one person died in New York City as a result of the outbreak.

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration issued its own advisory July 22 against consuming Caribeña brand papayas, which it identified as the source of the contamination. FDA said papaya samples taken by the Maryland Department of Health at a Baltimore retail location tested positive for the strains of Salmonella Kiambu and Salmonella Thompsonthat were found in people who had fallen ill.

States that have reported illnesses linked to the outbreak are Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah and Virginia. The highest concentration of illnesses are New York (13), New Jersey (12), Virginia (6), Maryland (5) and Pennsylvania (4). Each of the other states has reported a single illness.

Melissa Hartmann de Barros, director of communications at HLB Specialties in Pompano Beach, FL, a leading importer of papayas from Brazil, Guatemala and Mexico, said that while the health and safety of consumers is her company’s primary concern, she wants the industry to be clear that it is solely one brand of Maradol papayas from Mexico that have been identified as the source of the contamination.

 

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