photo by Tastyart Ltd Rob White via getty images

Two fatalities have been linked to the tainted fruit so far

Tim Nelson
September 12, 2017

Known for their mild sweetness and melon-like texture, Papayas are the perfect addition to any fruit salad. But if you want to hold onto those warm weather vibes by ingesting massive quantities of this summery fruit, you may be in for an unwelcome surprise. 

This week, federal officials traced four recent salmonella outbreaks back to tainted shipments of the tropical fruit originating from Mexico’s Pacific coast. The latest scare swept through southern California, causing one death and more than a dozen illnesses. San Ysidro-based Bravo Produce, accused of  importing infected Maradol papayas sometime between August 10th and 29th via Tijuana, issued a recall on Sunday after the FDA found their produce was to blame. 

This isn’t the first salmonella outbreak linked to the bright, mild fruit from southern Mexico and Central America. So far this year, 215 people across 26 have gotten sick, with one fatality reported in New York. New Jersey, Virginia and Texas have also seen a high number of cases. This latest incident sees salmonella shifting to the west, as consumers in Arizona, Colorado and California are the latest to come into contact with the troubling bacteria. 

So what’s a papaya-head to do in these troubling times? Unfortunately, your options aren’t great. It’s against FDA policy to publicly shame specific retailers, so you’ll have to check your papaya’s ten-digit sticker against this recall list to see if yours is safe to eat. The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a consumer advocacy group, filed a freedom of information request so it can share the names of retailers in question. Don’t hold your breath that it’ll be available before next year’s papaya crop comes in, though.

We may just have to replace papaya with plain old melon in our fruit salads until they’re back in season. But that’s the perfect excuse to mix in some booze instead. There are certainly worse ways to deal with a recall. 

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