U.S.: Salmonella outbreak linked to Mexican papaya

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U.S.: Salmonella outbreak linked to Mexican papaya

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued a public safety alert after 62 people in eight states were infected with salmonella after eating fresh papaya imported from Mexico, said CBS News.

Specifically, Federal health officials are warning consumers in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island not to eat papaya from Mexico due to the risk of food poisoning.

In addition to whole papayas, the CDC said these consumers should not eat fruit salads or other food that might contain the fruit.

Between 65% and 80% of the papaya imported into the U.S. comes from Mexico, according to U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Currently, safety officials and regulators are still trying to pinpoint exactly where in the country the tainted fruit came from.

Public responses to the papaya-linked outbreak

In response to the public health concern, the news station noted some consumer safety watchdogs are suggesting the fruit be pulled from supermarket shelves.

Additionally, they have asked the government to consider banning imports of papayas from Mexico until the source of the salmonella outbreak is identified.

Sarah Sorscher, director of regulatory affairs at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, said in a statement that the current outbreak shows the FDA's import protections "are clearly not working,"

Instead of relaying on third-party testing, the agency should inspect the farms where the fruits are grown to ensure they meet food safety standards, she commented.

If that's not feasible, the FDA should consider banning imports of the fruit, she added.

The FDA did not immediately respond to Sorcher's comments.

A months-long outbreak

The illnesses started in January and continued through June 8, with most occurring since April, said the CDC.

Most people infected with salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps between 12 and 72 hours after eating contaminated food, and are ill between four days and a week.

The bacteria is most prevalent in the summer, when warmer weather and unrefrigerated foods create an ideal environment for salmonella to grow.

Potentially tainted papayas were sold at select Walmart and Sam's Club stores, said CBS News.

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