August 18, 2019

In Wake of Papaya Salmonella Outbreak, CSPI Challenges FDA

Update: Cavi brand papayas distributed by Agroson’s LLC of the Bronx are now linked to this outbreak, according to the CDC. In the wake of the Salmonella Uganda outbreak linked to fresh whole papayas imported from Mexico, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) says that the FDA needs to do more to protect consumers. At least 62 people in 8 states are sick after eating the produce, and 23 have been hospitalized.

In Wake of Papaya Salmonella Outbreak, CSPI Says FDA Needs To More

A statement from CSPI Deputy Director of Regulatory Affairs Sarah Sorcsher reads, in part, “The import protections FDA has in place are clearly not working. Rather than rely on third-party testing, the FDA should directly inspect the farms these fruits may have come from and ensure they are meeting food safety standards. If the safety of the farms cannot be guaranteed, the FDA should consider whether the papayas should be allowed to be imported at all.”

The FDA is currently trying to identify brand names and farms that produced the papayas that may be implicated in this outbreak through traceback investigations. The FDA does have a standing import alert in place that requires papayas to be tested for Salmonella contamination. But any importer that is listed on the “Green List” of trusted partners can avoid this qualification.

About 80% of all papayas sold in the United States are imported form Mexico. And this isn’t the first time this fruit imported from that country has been linked to a U.S. Salmonella outbreak. In 2017, an outbreak linked to Maradol papayas imported from Mexico sickened at least 220 people in 23 states. One person died. And in 2011, more than 100 people were sickened in another Salmonella outbreak that was linked to Mexican papayas.

The warning stands: if you shop in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, or Rhode Island, do not buy any fresh, whole papayas unless you are sure they were not imported from Mexico. The FDA has not named any specific stores where the papayas may have been sold.

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