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Salmonella Papaya Outbreak Leads to Papaya Recall

Posted in Our Blog,Outbreaks & Recalls,Salmonella on July 9, 2019

A Papaya Recall is upon us. Guess what? History is repeating itself. The FDA has named Cavi brand whole fresh maradol papayas distributed by Agroson’s LLC, Bronx, NY as the source behind Salmonella outbreak that has sickened 71 people in 8 states. The epidemiological and traceback information has suggested that Agroson’s is the exclusive distributor of the papayas that made consumers sick.

Here is a breakdown of reported cases by state:

State No. of reported cases
New York 27
New Jersey 18
Connecticut 14
Massachusetts 5
Pennsylvania 4
Florida 1
Rhode Island 1
Texas 1

The papayas were whole, fresh papayas imported from Mexico and sold in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. According to investigation, the person who fell sick in Florida had travelled to Connecticut a week prior to getting sick. The officials are still investigating the case in Texas.

As of July 5, 2019 – 71 people have fallen ill as a result of eating contaminated papayas and 27 of them have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported yet. The earliest illness was reported on January 14, 2019. Last illness was reported on June 16, 2019. Ill people range in age from less than a year to 90 years, with a median age of 90. 52% of those who have fallen sick are females. More illnesses can be added due to the time difference between when a person falls ill and when the illness is reported.

CDC, FDA and several public health and regulatory officials have been investigating the outbreak since the first notice came out. And now they have narrowed down the source of papayas to Cavi brands whole, fresh papayas. Restaurants, retailers and other shop-owners should not sell or serve Cavi brand papayas.

FDA is continuing its investigation on determining the root cause of contamination. No specific grower has been named yet. They also don’t have any suspects on other brands of papayas imported from Mexico. The FDA has contacted the firm and asked them to recall their Cavi brand papayas.

Past Recalls:

In 2017, Agroson’s LLC recalled 2483 boxes of Cavi brand papayas at the request of FDA as a part of ongoing papaya outbreak. The recall was initiated after several brands of Maradol papaya from farm, Carica de Campeche, tested positive for Salmonella. These recalled Cavi brand papayas were grown and packed by Carica de Campeche. No illnesses were reported due to Cavi brand and the papayas didn’t test positive for the Salmonella either, the company issued the recall in cooperation with the FDA. 220 people got sick as a result of the outbreak with 68 hospitalisations and 1 death.

Agroson’s LLC ceased importing papayas from the grower. At the time, the company also implemented precautionary measures and began taking samples of every load to a private lab to test it for Salmonella. This was to make sure that the imported produce isn’t contaminated.

Investigation of the outbreak:

Ill people were interviewed about the foods they had and other exposures in the week before they fell sick. A total of 26 people were interviewed and 20 (77%) of them reported eating papayas. FDA and other public health officials in several states collected record from various stores where ill people reported buying papayas. The final records showed that Cavi brand papayas were sold at these stores.

Epidemiologic and traceback evidence suggested that Cavi brand whole, fresh papayas, distributed by Agroson’s LLC and imported from Mexico are a likely source of the outbreak. The investigation is not yet over.

Advice for consumers, wholesalers and food service providers:

  • With the exception of papayas from this brand, consumers don’t have to avoid any other papayas imported from Mexico.
  • Consumers who have Cavi brand whole, fresh papayas in their homes should throw them out and not use them. Discard them even if you’ve had them and didn’t fall sick. Don’t eat fruit salads or mixes that has Cavi brand papayas in it. If you aren’t sure about the brand, you can ask about it at the point of purchase. When in doubt, just throw it out.
  • You should also make sure to clean the surfaces where the papaya was kept so as to avoid any risk of cross-contamination.
  • Restaurants, shop-owners and any other food service establishments shouldn’t serve or sell any Cavi brand papayas that are distributed by Agroson’s LLC.
  • Wholesalers, importers and distributors should stop sales of Cavi brand papayas as well and withhold this particular brand’s papayas from distribution

Apart from getting rid of papayas from this brand or any unknown sources, follow these tips to clean out your refrigerator (both at home or in a restaurant) 

  • Throw out any suspicious food: This means that not only throwing out papayas but any other food products that may have been in close contact with it. This is especially for fresh fruits and vegetables that may have been lying around side by side around them.
  • Empty your refrigerator: This means cleaning all the shelves and drawers. This might sound like a little too much but when it comes to food safety, it is always better to be safe than sorry.
  • Wash out the removable parts: Rinse these parts with hot, soapy water. Let them dry before attaching them again..
  • Clean and sanitize the insides of the refrigerator. Take a disinfectant liquid and spritz it on a cloth. Properly clean the insides before wiping it off with a clean wet cloth.

Even the grocery store owners should properly clean the place where they kept the contaminated papayas.

What is Salmonella, and What you should know about it?

Salmonella is a common food poisoning that affects 1.2 million people in the US each year. It affects the intestinal tract and leads to symptoms such as diarrhea (sometimes explosive), vomiting and sometimes, fever. The incubation period of the illness is around 6 to 72 hours. Most healthy people will recover from the illness without any treatment. Some individuals like young children, elders and those with compromised immune system might develop complications. If you develop any symptoms of the infection, do consult your health care provider immediately.

The Lange Law Firm –

Our mission is to help families who have been harmed by contaminated food or water.  When corporations cause Salmonella food poisoning outbreaks or Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks, we use the law to hold them accountable.  The Lange Law Firm, PLLC is the only law firm in the nation solely focused on representing families in food poisoning lawsuits and Legionnaires disease lawsuits.

If you or your child was infected with Salmonella after eating papayas in this Salmonella Papaya Outbreak and are interested in making a legal claim for compensation, we have a Salmonella lawyer ready to help you.  Call us for a free no obligation legal consultation at (833) 330-3663 or send us an e-mail here.

By: Pooja Sharma, Contributing Writer (Non-Lawyer)