(UPDATED COVERAGE, May 23) Scrutiny of whole fresh Mexican papayas for salmonella and other pathogens continues, with shipments routinely held and rejected at the border after the Food and Drug Administration issued an import alert August 2011.

Meanwhile, recalls and import rejections in recent weeks support the FDA’s contention that the salmonella problem has not been resolved.

The agency updated its import alert on Mexican papayas May 18, clarifying that “detention without physical examination” applies to companies not on the FDA’s approved list.

Caribe Produce recall

UPDATED: Mexican papaya alert continues, as do recallsCaribe Produce LTD Co., McAllen, Texas, recalled a small number of Papaya Maradol Caribena brand fruit because of possible salmonella contamination discovered during routine testing, manager Stephen Corzo said May 21.

He said Caribe Produce notified all wholesale and retail customers May 15, and that the majority of the 286 cases of 35-pound cartons of fruit was no longer in the supply chain.

“Everyone is very cooperative and we have talked to all of our customers,” Corzo said. “Everyone these days wants to take extra precaution when there might be a problem and our customers have sent the papayas back.”

No illnesses have been reported.

The papayas were intended for individual sale and distributed by the case to wholesale and retail locations in the Bronx, NY, from May 14 through May 17.

Papayas & More recall

Another importer, Papayas & More LLC, McAllen, Texas, recalled more than 1,100 boxes of whole fresh papayas from Mexico April 14 because of salmonella contamination, but no recall notice was posted on the FDA’s recall Web page.

Owner Luis Anguiano referred questions to his customs broker, Rosa Ruvalcaba.

Ruvalcaba declined to provide the recall notice to The Packer. She said the load was delivered to Anguiano’s warehouse April 5 and on April 6 government officials collected samples for testing under the import alert guidelines.

“There was a shipping error,” Ruvalcaba said May 23, explaining that the load was shipped out before the test results came back.

Ruvalcaba said the government provided the positive salmonella results April 12. By then the load had been delivered to one wholesaler in Bronx, N.Y., who may have distributed the papayas to its customers.

The source of the contamination, Ruvalcaba said, was the water at the operation in Mexico. She said the grower added filters and additional treatments to the water to resolve the issue.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture issued Papayas & More its Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act license Jan. 27. Ruvalcaba said Anguiano had previously been selling directly from Mexico, using a variety of growers.

Grower’s fruit refused

The Papayas & More recall was reported in an FDA enforcement report issued May 16. It indicated the grower was Empaque de Frutas Chulavista S.A. de C.V., Tecoman, Mexico.

In addition to the April 14 recall, grower Empaque de Frutas Chulavista is listed in the FDA’s May 18 import refusal report as recorded by OASIS, the FDA’s Operational and Administrative System for Import Support. The grower had shipments refused on March 8 and March 21 at the border because of salmonella.

Several other papaya growers are listed in the May OASIS report as having shipments refused because of salmonella.

FDA officials stepped up surveillance of Mexican papayas in the summer of 2011 partly because of a salmonella outbreak related to fresh Mexican papaya imports that was linked to more than 100 illnesses.

The current recalls come at the height of the Mexican deal, which is expected to last through July.