Papayas Linked to 97 Salmonella Cases

Two federal agencies are investigating 97 reports of Salmonella Agona that have led to 10 hospitalization in 23 states. The outbreak is linked to papayas potentially contaminated with Salmonella. Both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continue to investigate the outbreak linked to a recent recall of Agromod papayas.

Outbreaks cases were reported between January 1 and July 18, 2011; the number of ill persons identified in each state with the outbreak strain is: Arkansas (1), Arizona (3), California (7), Colorado (1), Georgia (8), Illinois (17), Louisiana (2), Massachusetts (1), Minnesota (3), Missouri (3), Nebraska (2), Nevada (1), New Jersey (1), New Mexico (3), New York (6), Ohio (1), Oklahoma (1), Pennsylvania (1), Tennessee (1), Texas (25), Virginia (2), Washington (5), and Wisconsin (2). Illnesses began on or after January 17, 2011, with people sickened ranging in age from under 1 year of age to 91 years of age; the median age is 20, 41 percent are under 5 years of age, and 63 percent are women. Of those interviewed, 57 percent reportedly ate papayas.

The FDA is collaborating with state authorities, Agromod Produce Inc., and Mexican officials and is taking regulatory action to prevent potentially contaminated papaya from entering the U.S., including increasing its sampling of imported papaya. The CDC and the FDA are also collaborating with public health officials in many states and public health investigators are using DNA analysis of Salmonella bacteria obtained through diagnostic testing to identify illness cases that may be part of this outbreak. The FDA is also working with Agromod Produce to determine if previous shipments of potentially contaminated papaya could be in U.S. commerce.

The papayas were distributed in the United States and Canada by Agromod Produce, Inc., a distributor in McAllen, Texas. As we mentioned yesterday, recent FDA sampling found the outbreak strain in two papaya samples collected at Agromod Produce in McAllen, Texas and at the U.S. border destined for Agromod Produce. The shipments that tested positive with the Salmonella Agona strain were not distributed in the U.S.

All papayas distributed by Agromod Produce, Inc. of McAllen, Texas sold before July 23, 2011 have been recalled and can be identified, as follows:

• Blondie Brand Papayas: A blue and orange sticker label with green and white lettering on the fruit that states Blondie 4395 Mexico.

• Yaya Brand Papayas: A yellow, red, orange, and green label with white, green and red lettering that reads Yaya Premium Papayas Yaya PLU-4395 Mexico.
• Mañanita Brand Papayas: A green, yellow, and red sticker label that states Mexico Mañanita 4395.

• Tastylicious Brand Papayas: A white and blue sticker with red and white lettering that states 4395 Tastylicious MEXICO.

The FDA advises consumers to examine fresh papayas for Agromod brand stickers and to check with the retailer to determine if the papayas they purchased are among those recalled. The FDA advises consumers, retailers, and others with papayas from Agromod Produce, Inc. to discard the recalled fruit in a sealed container so people and animals, including wild animals, cannot eat them.

Consumption of food contaminated with Salmonella can cause salmonellosis, one of the most common bacterial foodborne illnesses. Salmonella infections can be life threatening, especially to those with weak immune systems, such as infants, the elderly, and persons with HIV infection or who are undergoing chemotherapy. The most common manifestations of salmonellosis are diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 6 to 72 hours. Additional symptoms may be chills, headache, nausea, and vomiting that can last up to seven days.

Agromod can be reached, toll-free, at 1.800.385.7658, Monday through Friday, from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm, Central Standard Time (CST).
Consumers with questions about produce safety should contact 1-888-SAFEFOOD.

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