23-state Salmonella outbreak linked to papaya
July 25th, 2011
01:43 PM ET

23-state Salmonella outbreak linked to papaya

Contaminated papaya appears to be the cause of an outbreak of Salmonella in 23 states the Food and Drug Administration is warning consumers. The FDA says papayas imported from Mexico and distributed by Agromod Produce Inc. of McAllen, Texas, is likely the source of 97 cases of Salmonella agona. To date 10 people have been hospitalized but there have been no reported deaths. As a result, Agromod Produce has voluntarily recalled all papaya sold before July 23.

The cases were reported between January 1 and July 18 in Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio. Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin. While ages ranged from 1 year to 91 years old, the average age of those stricken is 20. More than half of the cases are women. Texas had the most cases with 25 people falling ill.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Salmonella agona  is one of about 2,000 strains of salmonella. Symptoms usually show up 12 to 72 hours after infection and can last up to seven days. Approximately 40,000 cases of salmonellosis are reported each year in the U.S.

The FDA is telling consumers to check for the Agromod brand stickers on fresh papayas before buying the fruit. Consumers and retailers who already have Agromod brand papayas should throw them out in a sealed container so that even animals can't eat them. Investigators say anyone who believes they got sick from eating papaya should see their doctor.

The papayas could have been distributed nationwide in the U.S. and Canada. The FDA and CDC are working together with public health officials at the state level to identify additional cases. In a press release the agency said "the FDA is taking regulatory action to prevent potentially contaminated papaya from entering the United States, including increasing its sampling of imported papaya."

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soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. Randall

    There's something healthy to eat?

    July 25, 2011 at 16:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Fritz

      Yeah, this same papaya after it's been washed and pealed.

      July 25, 2011 at 18:04 | Report abuse |
    • kris

      seems that every healthy thing has salmonella..ill stick to junk

      July 25, 2011 at 18:10 | Report abuse |
    • Larry

      The large food producers don't allow the FDA to get in the way. There is too much money to be maid to be bothered with inspections and other time wasting rituals. The Food Safety Act is more about driving smaller producers off the market than it is about protecting consumers. It does have a catchy name, though.

      July 25, 2011 at 18:48 | Report abuse |
  2. Fritz

    If they pealed and washed them first that would be impossible. This is a non issue. Why not publish a story about people getting sick from walking barefoot and then licking their feet?

    July 25, 2011 at 18:02 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Elizabeth

      Fritz, see Russell's comment below. Salmonella will not wash off; it needs to be cooked.
      But that leads to another problem...

      July 26, 2011 at 02:25 | Report abuse |
  3. zoundsman

    Hawaii papayas are the best, hands down. But little will be available for export as 2-3 weeks ago, some vandals
    hacked down acres of trees belonging to different farmers.

    July 25, 2011 at 18:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • musubiduck

      I agree, I've never heard of problems with Hawai'i papayas. Now that I live in Colorado, I CRAVE for Hawaiian Papayas. I never realized the joy of fresh ripe half sliced papaya, with a scoop a vanilla ice cream.

      I miss home. 🙁

      July 25, 2011 at 22:48 | Report abuse |
  4. kelly

    this is why i avoid those shopping cart fruit sales downtown

    July 25, 2011 at 18:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. J3sus Sandals

    As a raw fruit it tastes like vomit – like how durian smells.

    July 25, 2011 at 18:25 | Report abuse | Reply
    • CF

      You're not buying good papayas then. The ones we get in Hawaii are delicious.

      July 25, 2011 at 19:06 | Report abuse |
  6. noname

    mexico uses sewage to water fruits and veggies!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    July 25, 2011 at 18:39 | Report abuse | Reply
    • MATT


      July 25, 2011 at 19:46 | Report abuse |
    • noname2

      Ever seen a full grown papaya tree?

      July 26, 2011 at 00:12 | Report abuse |
  7. Russell

    There seem to be some misconceptions about Salmonella in a few of the comments posted here. Salmonella is a very hardy bacteria that can tolerate extremely harsh conditions. Washing your food with soap and water does not kill Salmonella. Freezing is ineffective as well. The only way to completely eradicate it is to cook your food (131 degrees F for 1 hr. or 140 degrees F for a 1/2 hr.)

    July 25, 2011 at 20:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Elizabeth

      O.K., I agree that it is hardy. (My daughter got salmonella after eating fast food in 1994; she had a mild case, but was in agony for months.) But...
      The experts have said that if cutting up chicken (for example), be sure to wash any surfaces with soap and water afterward. If the soap and water isn't killing the salmonella, then what to do? Bleach also causes environmental hazards, such as organic compounds of poly-vinyl chloride (PVCs) and dioxin, and these compounds cause several chronic conditions such as endometriosis, cancer, etc. Bleach also wears micro-cracks into most surfaces, destroying sinks, counters, etc. The over-use of bleach is the reason why people have been going back to vinegar and baking soda as cleansers.

      July 26, 2011 at 02:30 | Report abuse |
    • Russell

      Elizabeth, I'm sorry to hear about your daughter. And you're right to ask "what are we to do?" The truth of the matter is that the FDA does not do enough to protect us from contaminants like Salmonella and E coli. Their testing is reactive, not proactive, as it should be. What you can do is to let your representative know of your concerns. It may not seem like much, but persistence pays off. Also, know that their are others working to protect people from these kinds of pathogens. I work with a company called Safe Harbor that proactively tests seafood for E coli, Salmonella, mercury and radiation. Our standards all meet or exceed the FDA's.

      July 26, 2011 at 12:52 | Report abuse |
  8. Lila

    I just had papaya for lunch...from my backyard and it was delicious! Then again, I live in Hawaii 🙂

    July 25, 2011 at 20:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Terry P

    Our FDA protects us so well.

    July 25, 2011 at 21:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. AJ

    This just confirms that people should just eat whatever they like. We have all heard for decades that it is good to eat fruit and vegetables, but now those seem to be the things leading to potentially serious illness. I give up.

    July 25, 2011 at 23:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. AnotherLila

    I bought and ate one last week, didn't get sick obviously. Washed the outside thoroughly and cut it off. Papaya is a superfood with 33% more Vit C than oranges. Most days I try to eat some.

    July 25, 2011 at 23:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. AugT

    Seriously – Seven Months of Salmonella with imported papaya??!! I thought all imported produce was being checked before being distributed to the public ... yet another failure with the USDA and with policy makers in the US.

    Fix this later ... worry about going into default Congressman!!

    July 25, 2011 at 23:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Elizabeth

      They are playing tea party instead of working. They really don't care about anything. They let people be exposed to this for months before telling anybody.

      July 26, 2011 at 02:33 | Report abuse |
  13. mm

    Why doesn't someone educate these people on how to wash and handle food properly so they don't get sick. So many times I see people go to the grocery store and put fruits and vegetables on the cart right where the kids sit with their dirty diapers. These people go home and eat the food and don't wash them or don't wash them properly. Then they blame the farms and places of production. Look a little closer people. The mess is right in your shopping cart.

    July 26, 2011 at 00:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Cristina

      SO TRUE!!!

      July 26, 2011 at 02:16 | Report abuse |
  14. mm

    Supermarkets should disinfect their shopping carts daily and insist that kids ride in the special shopping carts so their dirty diapers don't contaminate the shopping carts where people have to put their food.

    July 26, 2011 at 00:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Sara

    Yes Hawaiian papayas are the best. The trees chopped down in Hawaii recently were GMO papayas. We need to get rid of GMO produce.

    July 26, 2011 at 00:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. jim

    I find homesteading a great way to reduce dependency on supermarkets produce, meats, and processed foods. Growing your own, has so many benefits. one site, http://www.themetropolitanhomestead.com is one of many places I look for ideas, etc.

    July 26, 2011 at 00:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Elizabeth

    Why didn't we hear about this until now? Is this the media covering it? The F.D.A.? Agri-business? All three? For those on chemo therapy, this could kill them. It is irresponsible not to report it sooner.
    "The cases were reported between January 1 and July 18 in Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio. Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin."

    July 26, 2011 at 02:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. JehseaLynn


    I heard the church bells "peal" Sunday.

    I watched Fritz "peel" his papaya.

    I'm not normally the English police, but it just got to me, so...

    July 26, 2011 at 03:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. kytty

    I live in hawaii also, and still have no clue what caused my daughters salmonella 6 months ago. however, unless i pick it myself i do cook even our fruits, baked apples are delicious and nothing beats a pineapple from my own yard. thank you for your information on bleach also elizabeth... good to know someone else has noticed it does more harm than good. so our solutions to preventing another infection: thoroughly cooking almost everything, especially eggs, stay away from strange poop, and purell!

    July 26, 2011 at 03:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. kytty

    Also, give them a break like i said we still have no clue what caused my daughters... it takes a long time for the connections to be made among a significant number of people. everyone just assumed we had a turtle or something... but no. and we had done nothing out of the ordinary so nothing would stand out.

    July 26, 2011 at 03:39 | Report abuse | Reply
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