FDA steps up surveillance of Mexican papayas

08/09/2011 12:34:00 PM
Chris Koger

An investigation related to a voluntary papaya recall issued in July by Agromod Produce Inc. has prompted the Food and Drug Administration to step up surveillance of Mexican papayas.

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.


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Homero Levy de Barros    
Florida  |  August, 09, 2011 at 03:16 PM

Dear Packer, please use the correct picture when identifying the recalled large papaya variety (PLU 4395), and not the small Golden papaya variety (PLU 3111) as shown in the picture. This would help correctly inform the public as to which kind of papaya was recalled. Thank you for your attention to this very important matter. https://encrypted.google.com/search?q=papaya+4395&hl=en&biw=1440&bih=745&prmd=ivns&source=lnms&tbm=isch&ei=rpJBTsfbKsX20gH274S8CQ&sa=X&oi=mode_link&ct=mode&cd=2&ved=0CBQQ_AUoAQ#q=papaya+4395&hl=en&sa=X&tbm=isch&prmd=ivns&fp=1&biw=1440&bih=1008&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.&cad=b

Brunhilde Merker, CEO    
FL  |  August, 09, 2011 at 04:36 PM

With ScoringAg traceback codes on every stickered papaya the problem can be solved in a hurry as the documentation associated with the code, points to the spot in a field or block and the problem can be eliminated. There is no need for a total recall as not every contaminated papaya or any other produce comes from the same grower or the same field, where the problem lies. The Packer reported about this technology and shows a picture a few weeks ago: http://www.thepacker.com/fruit-vegetable-news/122605064.html It’s easy and affordable to prevent situations like this in the future. As the FDA has to be paid from October 1, 2011 on for surveillance, it’s getting even more costly.

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