Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, D-CT, is demanding the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) use its mandatory authority to force Agroson’s LLC to recall the Cavi brand of the whole, fresh papayas.

The Cavi brand papayas are likely responsible for the multistate outbreak of Salmonella Uganda illnesses in the United States, according to both FDA and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).   Agroson’s LLC is the brand’s exclusive distributor and flatly refuses to initiate a recall,

The Salmonella outbreak associated with the imported papayas is responsible for at least 71 illnesses in eight states, including DeLauro’s Connecticut.

“The FDA is a regulatory agency whose mission is to safeguard public health and protect consumers from unsafe food,” said DeLauro. “Too often corporations fail to act in the public’s interest. That is why Congress gave the FDA mandatory recall authority in the Food Safety Modernization Act.”

“But the passive approach it (FDA) has taken in response to this Salmonella outbreak has threatened people and their families, ” DeLauro continued. “That is unacceptable. FDA must immediately employ its mandatory recall authority and send a strong message that this uncooperative behavior will not be tolerated.”

In a letter last week, DeLauro criticized the FDA’s delay in notifying the public about the outbreak and asked for an update on the investigation.

DeLauro is the Chair of the Congressional Food Safety Caucus and is a senior Democrat on the Appropriations Subcommittee responsible for oversight and funding of the FDA.

Since April, when FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb left government, the agency has been without a permanent leader.   Dr. Norman “Ned” Sharpless is serving as acting FDA Commissioner.

The FDA  Friday said it “has asked Agroson’s LLC, the exclusive distributor of this brand, to conduct a voluntary recall of Cavi brand papayas. Agroson’s LLC refused to initiate a recall. FDA contacted wholesale customers of Agroson’s LLC to ensure the fruit was no longer available for sale, has been discarded, or not further processed or frozen.  FDA is doing this to protect consumers as it pursues additional protective and regulatory actions.”

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