Salmonella Melon Outbreak: 62 Cases of Salmonella linked to Mexican imported papayas.
On June 28 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced their investigation on a multistate outbreak of salmonella. According to the FDA the outbreak is potentially linked to whole, fresh papayas imported from Mexico. 62 people have already been reported as affected by this outbreak, more than one third of which have been hospitalized.
The FDA announced that the 62 cases of salmonella have been reported from eight separate states: Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Florida, and Texas.
This isn’t the first time that papayas imported from Mexico have been linked to a U.S. Salmonella outbreak. In 2011, more than 100 people were affected by another Salmonella outbreak that was linked to Mexican papayas. On 2017, an outbreak linked to Maradol papayas imported from Mexico infected at least 220 people in a multistate outbreak of 23 states with one reported casualty.
The FDA and regulatory officials in several states are collecting records to determine the source of the papayas that the affected people ate. Early product distribution information available at this time indicates that the papayas that made people sick were imported from Mexico. This trace back investigation is ongoing.
The Center for Science In the public Interest (CSPI) stated “The import protections FDA has in place are clearly not working. Rather than rely on third-party testing, the FDA should directly inspect the farms these fruits may have come from and ensure they are meeting food safety standards. If the safety of the farms cannot be guaranteed, the FDA should consider whether the papayas should be allowed to be imported at all.”
About 80% of all papayas sold in the United States are imported from Mexico. No recall has been issued on the whole, fresh papayas imported from Mexico but the CDC is advising consumers in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island to avoid eating any of the Mexican imported papayas and dispose of them away if they have any in their homes. The in their update the CDC advised retailers, restaurants, and other food service providers in those states avoid serving or selling whole, fresh papayas imported from Mexico, until more is known about this outbreak.
Salmonella Melon Outbreak: Legal Implications?
The last time there was a major salmonella melon outbreak, one person died and many others filed salmonella melon lawsuits against an array of defendants, including the growers, suppliers, and distributors. The victims sought compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Like any food poisoning lawsuit, says national food poisoning lawyer Ron Simon, “these sorts of claim are based upon an assumption that when you buy food to consume in the US, is should be free of dangerous pathogens and adulterants.”
It is too early to determine if this latest salmonella melon outbreak will result in food borne illness litigation.