Agroson’s LLC, a distributor in New York City, is recalling Cavi brand maradol papayas because they were grown on a farm in Mexico that produced other brands of papaya that are linked to a deadly Salmonella outbreak in the U.S. that has sickened more than 100 people.
Investigators with the Food and Drug Administration are “in discussion with other distributors and expect to have additional information to share in coming days,” an agency spokeswoman told Food Safety News on Friday night.
The New York distributor shipped the maradol papayas to wholesalers in New York, Connecticut and New Jersey who in turn sent the fruit on to retailers and other
customers, according to the Agroson’s recall notice on the FDA’s website.
No illnesses had been confirmed in connection with papayas from Agroson’s as of Friday.
As of Wednesday, there were 109 confirmed outbreak victims across 16 states, with one death reported in New York City, according to a Friday update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Agroson’s distributed the now-recalled papayas between July 16 and 19. They were available for sale at retailers through July 31. Consumers can identify the papayas by PLU sticker that has “cavi MEXICO 4395” printed on it.
“All wholesale customers to whom the papayas were delivered have already been notified to remove the recalled papayas from inventory, store shelves, and other commercial venues. Recall effectiveness checks are already underway by Agroson’s LLC,” according to the recall notice.
“The recall was initiated after Agroson’s LLC, was notified by the FDA, on August 2 that several brands of maradol papaya from the farm Carica de Campeche had tested positive for Salmonella. None of the brands were specifically Cavi brand, but as a precaution FDA recommended a recall of all papayas imported in the month of July from this farm.”
The FDA has been working with state officials and the CDC to investigate the ongoing outbreak, which was first identified by Maryland public health staff investigating a cluster of Salmonella Kiambu illnesses.
Grande Produce of San Juan, TX, recalled Caribeña brand maradol papayas it distributed in Maryland and other states after people confirmed with Salmonella infections reported eating the fruit before they became ill. Lab tests conducted by Maryland officials confirmed the outbreak strain of Salmonella on Caribeña brand maradol papayas collected from a grocery store in Baltimore and from sick people’s homes.
Friday morning FDA named the Carica de Campeche farm in Mexico as the source of several brands of papayas, including those distributed by Grande Produce and Agroson’s, that tested positive for Salmonella.
“Papayas from the Carica de Campeche farm tested positive for Salmonella Kiambu, Salmonella Thompson, Salmonella Agona, Salmonella Senftenberg, and Salmonella Gaminara,” FDA reported Friday morning.
“On (Thursday) CDC announced it has added illnesses of Salmonella Thompson to this outbreak investigation because of epidemiological and laboratory evidence. Whole genome sequencing is pending for these samples. The Carica de Campeche farm has been added to Import Alert (IA) 99-35.
“The FDA had increased testing of papayas from Mexico in an effort to see if fruit from other farms could be contaminated. If the FDA finds Salmonella in other shipments, those farms will also be added to IA 99-35.”
Both Grande Produce and Agroson’s have stopped using fruit from the Carica de Campeche farm, according to the companies’ recall notices. Agroson’s is taking additional steps.
“The company is taking precautionary measures to ensure the safety of its imported produce by taking samples of every load to a private lab, and testing for Salmonella,” Agroson’s reported in its recall.
Advice to consumers, restaurants and retailers
State and federal public health officials recommend applying the golden rule of food safety regarding papayas on hand in homes and businesses: When in doubt, throw it out.
Additional recommendations from CDC include:
- If you have had whole, fresh papayas in your home or business, wash and sanitize countertops, cutting boards and utensils, as well as drawers or shelves in refrigerators where papayas were stored, with a solution of one tablespoon of chlorine bleach to one gallon of hot water; dry with a clean cloth or new paper towel.
- Wash your hands with running water and soap following the cleaning and sanitation process.
Anyone who has eaten fresh papaya recently and developed symptoms of Salmonella infection is urged to seek medical attention and tell their doctors about the possible exposure so the proper diagnostic tests can be performed.
Salmonella bacteria can cause diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain and fever. Symptoms usually begin between 12 to 36 hours after exposure, but they may begin as early as 6 hours or as late as 72 hours after exposure.
Symptoms can be mild or severe and commonly last for two to seven days. Salmonella can infect anyone, but young children, older adults and people with weakened immune systems are the most likely to have severe infections.
Editor’s note: Because of the popularity of papayas in Mexican and Hispanic cuisine, public health officials say people in those groups are at particular risk during the current outbreak. To access Spanish versions of information the CDC and FDA have posted about the outbreak and recalls, please use the following links:
- Grande Produce papaya recall: https://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ucm569122.htm
- FDA outbreak investigation: https://www.fda.gov/Food/RecallsOutbreaksEmergencies/Outbreaks/ucm568393.htm
- CDC outbreak investigation: https://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/kiambu-07-17/es/index.html
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