Notice of the increased surveillance came from the Cargo Systems Messaging Service of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. It states that “recent analytical results of samples of Mexican papayas indicate an elevated number of microbiological contamination violations, specifically salmonella violations.”
The FDA has issued guidance to its field offices for an “immediate increase in surveillance sampling of Mexican papayas,” the notice states, but it does not provide a contact person for additional information. Calls and e-mails to the FDA’s public affairs person designated to handle the papaya situation were not returned.
Importers of Mexican papayas should expect delays because the FDA is increasing the rate of sampling at the border, according to Customs and Border Protection. “The guidance issued includes means to lessen the surveillance of shipments from growers with repeated non-violative analytical results,” according to the notice.
Tex Starr Distributing LLC, Dallas, had not experienced any delays with papaya imports, according to staff.
Brooks Tropicals, Homestead, Fla., grows and packs 100% of its Caribbean Red papayas from Belize, said marketing director Mary Ostlund.
“I expected a lot of questions about the recall, but that didn’t happen,” she said. “The inquiries I did receive were simply do-checking to make sure our Caribbean Red papayas were not impacted by the recall.”
Ryan Wolverton, sales manager at Tex Starr Distributing, said the Alamo, Texas, firm is in a similar situation. Tex Starr grows their Royal Star papayas in Colima, Mexico, packing and shipping them to wholesalers, retailers and foodservice customers across the U.S. and Canada.
“Our field and sheds are certified by Senasica (the Mexican Department of Agriculture),” Wolverton said. “Some shipments have been stalled one to three days, but none have come back with bad tests.”
Wolverton said Tex Starr is not having any problem meeting its customers’ demands because of the FDA’s increased surveillance.
More than 115,200 metric tons of papaya were imported to the U.S. from Mexico in 2010, according to the Foreign Agriculture Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.