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More Than Papayas – And What You Need To Know About Salmonella And Food Outbreaks

HLB Specialties, a US papaya importer, was helpful in issuing information explaining the difference between various types of papayas, to educate the public and to avoid a disaster to the industry. There are three types of papaya commonly available, they explained:

Maradol papayas are large, weighing about three pounds. They have a yellow skin when ripe. Formosa, or Tainung papayas, are similar to Maradol in size and weight, but are greener and ready to eat before they fully turn yellow. The  Brazilian Golden papaya weighs only a pound.

Conclusion

While this recall of papayas is concerning, it needs to be kept in perspective. This outbreak is limited to fruit from a specific farm in Mexico. Papaya is a healthy fruit, packed with vitamins and antioxidants.

Continue to enjoy them, but read the labels for information on their origin.

In the grand scheme of things, this outbreak is a relatively small concern. And this outbreak is just one more example of why this administration’s proposals to gut the FDA and CDC are endangering us all. We need public health and oversight.

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Deadly salmonella outbreak expands to 19 states; some papaya brands recalled

HLB Specialties, a US papaya importer, released a statement Friday that emphasized the differences between brands, varieties and countries of origin.

“The outbreak is limited to one specific grower in the south of Mexico, Carica de Campeche, and the brands they distribute. Papayas from Guatemala, Brazil, Formosa papaya and other Maradol papaya brands from Mexico are not linked to the outbreak and are safe for consumption,” the statement said.
 
 
 
 
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Papaya importer urges media to keep consumers calm and educated

In light of the recent Salmonella outbreak associated with Maradol papayas from Mexico, one of the largest papaya importers into the United States is cautioning retailers and the media to make a clear distinction between the different papaya brands, growers, varieties and countries of origin.

The outbreak is limited to one specific grower in the south of Mexico, Carica de Campeche, and the brands it distributes, stressed HLB Specialties, an importer based in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Papayas from Guatemala, Brazil, Formosa papaya and other Maradol papaya brands from Mexico are not linked to the outbreak and are safe for consumption.

Formosa-vs-Maradol

HLB hopes to educate shoppers on the different types of papaya and to dispel any confusion that may have arisen from the outbreak.

Melissa Hartmann de Barros, director of communications at HLB Specialties, said, “The safety of the consumers is our highest priority. We share their concern, but we also want to provide as much information as possible, so that shoppers can make an educated decision when buying papayas.”

Hartmann de Barros added, “We are seeing a lot of misinformation circulating, including pictures of the wrong papaya variety being used when referring to the Maradol papaya linked to the Salmonella outbreak.”

Maradol papayas are the large kind, weighing approximately three pounds and usually have a fully yellow skin when ripe. Formosa papayas, also known as 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, is very sweet and ideal for personal use.

Papayas are considered one of the healthiest fruits in the world due to their high vitamin content, especially vitamin C, said Hartmann de Barros.

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US papaya importer reiterates importance of consumer education

In light of the recent Salmonella outbreak of July 2017, HLB Specialties is cautioning retailers and the media to make a clear distinction between the different papaya brands, growers, varieties, and countries of origin. The outbreak is limited to one specific grower in the south of Mexico, Carica de Campeche, and the brands they distribute. Papayas from Guatemala, Brazil, Formosa papaya and other Maradol papaya brands from Mexico are not linked to the outbreak and are safe for consumption. 
 
The company hopes to educate shoppers on the different types of papaya and to dispel any confusion that may have arisen from 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, but we also want to provide as much information as possible, so that shoppers can make an educated decision when buying papayas. 
 
 
Ms. Hartmann de Barros adds, “we are seeing a lot of misinformation circulating, including pictures of the wrong papaya variety being used when referring to the Maradol papaya linked to the Salmonella outbreak.” Maradol Papayas are the large kind, weighing approximately three pounds and usually have a fully yellow skin when ripe. Formosa papayas, also known as 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, is very sweet and ideal for personal use. Papayas are considered one of the healthiest fruits in the world due to their high vitamin content, especially vitamin C.
 
 
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HLB Communication – Salmonella Outbreak 2017 Follow Up

Press Release

For Immediate Release

Contact: Melissa Hartmann de Barros

954-475-8808

Melissa@hlbspec.com

Images Available                                                                 August 8, 2017

 

 

Salmonella Outbreak Limited To One Papaya Grower

 

Fort Lauderdale, 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 brands, growers, varieties, and countries of origin. The outbreak is limited to one specific grower in Mexico, Carica de Campeche, and the brands they distribute. Papayas of other growers, brands, 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 USA (Hawaii). Maradol Papayas are the large kind, weighing approximately three pounds and usually have a fully yellow skin when ripe. Formosa papayas, also known as 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, 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 Formosa as well as the small Brazilian Golden variety are not implicated and are safe for consumption.”

Food Safety is a very important part of HLB Specialties. The company follows all food safety guidelines put in place by FDA as well as third party certifying agencies that continuously monitor their growers’ work.

Salmonella is a bacteria found in raw foods that have been handled with poor hygiene. It is not a problem linked to a specific kind of food, but with incorrect handling, most likely in post-production with the use of unsanitary water or an unclean packing house.

In an effort to provide more information to the media and consumers, HLB has made several posts on their social media channels and contacted all major produce industry publications. To follow their posts, please see their InstagramFacebook, and Twitter pages by searching @hlbspecialties or clicking on the links.

HLB Specialties carries organic and conventional Formosa papayas, Brazilian Golden papayas, mangoes, avocados, limes, as well as other specialty items such as rambutan and goldenberries. For more information please visit www.HLBinfo.com follow @hlbspecialties on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter or call 954-475-8808.

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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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Guatemala’s rambutan crop is shaping up well

Andres Ocampo (second from the right) together with the team of LaFinita.

“Two weeks ago, I visited our rambutan grower in Guatemala to see how this year’s crop is developing,” says Andres Ocampo with HLB Specialties. “It is still early in the season as the flowers from the rambutan trees are just starting to shift into actual fruits. However, these are the first signs of a healthy crop.”

Extending the season

Although harvest is two months away, HLB’s grower LaFinita is very optimistic about the upcoming season. Normally, the season starts around June 1st, but harvest might begin a little earlier this year. “Our grower has been trying to extend the season by planting in different regions,” said Ocampo. Because of different soils and climates, some trees flower a little earlier. The first region that comes into production is situated in the southern part of Guatemala, in the department of San Marcos. “If harvest in San Marcos would start mid-May, volumes won’t be significant until the beginning of June,” added Ocampo. Once harvest in the south has been finalized, it will shift to the Puerto Barrios region in the department of Izabal. Growing in two different regions has allowed LaFinita to extend its season through November.

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Formosa papaya: the hermaphrodite that’s always ready

 

The Place: HLB Specialties, run by the Barros family, is named for Brazilian founder Homero Levy de Barros. The company, based in Pompano Beach, has 26 years of experience in growing and importing papayas and serving top retailers and wholesalers in North America and Canada. They recently started importing organic Formosa papayas, grown sustainably in Mexico in a secluded area with a protected microclimate where the fruits can develop undisturbed year round. They are always in season and have the longest shelf life of all papayas.

The History: Papayas are a large leafy herb resembling trees, as they grow to more than 30 feet tall. The large elongated Formosa papaya is called Tainung in Taiwan, where the seeds come from. They were introduced to Taiwan from Brazil by the Portuguese in the 15th century. Taiwan was once a Portuguese colony called Formosa, which means “beautiful” in Portuguese. So Brazilian and other growers call the papaya Formosa, the name it also goes by in the U.S., Canada and Europe. Papayas originated in southern Mexico and neighboring Central America, but they grow in subtropical regions all over the world, including Africa, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Australia, the Caribbean, South Florida, Southern California and Hawaii.

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Cold weather not stopping the healthy supply of imported papayas

Supply of papayas is looking good to meet an equally strong demand for them. “Supply is strong right now,” says Michael Napolitano of Pompano Beach, Fl-based HLB Specialties LLC. “With the exception of papaya coming from Mexico. There’s been some cold weather, which is normal for this time of year, and supply is not as strong as usual but still ample.” HLB imports large papaya from both Mexico and Guatemala while it imports solo papayas from Brazil, with all three varieties being supplied year-round. 

Supply of papayas is looking good to meet an equally strong demand for them. “Supply is strong right now,” says Michael Napolitano of Pompano Beach, Fl-based HLB Specialties LLC. “With the exception of papaya coming from Mexico. There’s been some cold weather, which is normal for this time of year, and supply is not as strong as usual but still ample.” HLB imports large papaya from both Mexico and Guatemala while it imports solo papayas from Brazil, with all three varieties being supplied year-round. 

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