More than 60 people are confirmed sick with Salmonella infections in a multistate outbreak linked to fresh papayas from Mexico, according to a public alert issued on Friday.
Federal officials are advising that consumers in certain states not eat any fresh papayas from Mexico until further notice. Those states are Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island, according to the public alert from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Consumers in those six states are urged to check their homes for papayas imported from Mexico and dispose of them. “Throw the papayas away, even if some of them were eaten and no one has gotten sick. Do not eat fruit salads or other mixes that include papayas from Mexico,” the CDC’s alert says. “If you aren’t sure the papaya you bought is from Mexico, you can ask the place of purchase. When in doubt, don’t eat the papaya. Throw it out.”
HLB Specialties not impacted
HLB Specialties, an importer of tropical fruits with offices in the United States and Europe, has issued a letter to its customers, letting them know that HLB papayas have not been implicated by the outbreak.
"We source papayas from Brazil, Guatemala, and Mexico and our fruit has not in any way been implicated in the outbreak," says Melissa Hartmann de Barros with HLB Specialties. "Our Mexican papayas are grown organically and exclusively by our partner-grower in the state of Michoacán. They adhere to strict organic protocols and we have never had any type of recall due to bacteria or disease-causing agents," she added.
"Our papayas are grown and packed in certified fields and packing houses and we are therefore confident that all our papayas, including our Mexican-grown fruits, are safe for consumption. We caution retailers and wholesalers to make a distinction between the different countries of origin. For now the alert refers to Mexican papayas, and we await the development of the investigation and will keep our customers informed about any developments as they narrow it down to a specific grower and label." HLB Specialties has a dedicated person on staff to answer any questions. Please email FoodSafety@hlbspec.com with any concerns.
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.