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FDA: Salmonella outbreak linked to papayas from Mexico

July 25, 2011|By Marissa Cevallos, HealthKey / For the Booster Shots blog
  • Texas-based Agromod Produce is recalling four brands of papayas amid concerns that a U.S. salmonella outbreak--with 97 infections and 10 hospitalizations--may be linked to papayas imported from Mexico.
Texas-based Agromod Produce is recalling four brands of papayas amid concerns… (Los Angeles Times )

A Texas food distributor is voluntarily recalling Mexican-grown papayas amid fears they led to a salmonella outbreak involving 97 people in 23 states.

Agromod Produce announced Saturday that it is recalling papayas sold before July 23, which come in four brands: Blondie, Mañanita, Tastylicious and Yaya.

Ten people have been hospitalized, but no deaths have been reported. Salmonella can cause severe diarrhea and poses the most risk to infants and the elderly—in the most recent outbreak, patients ranged from younger than1 year old to 91 years old, and 41% of the patients are younger than 5 years old.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Food and Drug Administration are still investigating the sources of the outbreak—illnesses started as early as January, and only 57% of the patients interviewed said they ate papaya, according to an FDA release.

The FDA said the outbreak strain, Salmonella Agona, was found in papayas at the company’s location in McAllen, Texas, and at the U.S. border en route to Texas, though neither were in shipments distributed in the U.S. Ten other papaya samples from Mexico have tested positive for salmonella, but were different strains than the outbreak strain.

In the meantime, the FDA advises consumers who have papayas from Agromod to throw them away in a sealed container so other people or animals can’t eat it; an Agromod news release asks consumers to return the papayas to where they were purchased. 

Papayas aren't the first produce item suspected of salmonella contamination in the U.S. this year. Cantaloupes from Guatemala were linked to a 20-person salmonella outbreak earlier this year. And more recently, a 25-person outbreak was linked to eating alfalfa sprouts and spicy sprouts between April and July.  But it doesn’t rival the egg outbreak in 2010, with nearly 2,000 people infected.

With food-borne contamination in mind, here are some tips from FoodSafety.org on handling fresh produce—including washing the produce even if you plan on peeling it.

healthkey@tribune.com

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