Last Friday, the CDC announced it was investigating a multistate outbreak of salmonella—specifically, a strain known as salmonella Kiambu—from Caribeña-brand Maradol Papayas. Imported from Mexico and distributed by the San Juan, Texas-based Grande Produce, they’re green-skinned, ovular papayas that morph into yellow as they ripen, their flesh the color of salmon. They’ve got red, green, and yellow stickers on them that bear the Caribeña logo.
So far, one unnamed New York resident has died as a result of this outbreak, while 46 other people have been infected across 12 states. Twelve of those affected have been hospitalized. Patients began experiencing symptoms between May 17 to June 28 of this year. (Symptoms take 12 to 72 hours after consumption to surface, and their severity ranges from person to person.)
The trouble began in Maryland, where the state's Department of Health identified a cluster of illnesses after a number of patients bought the same papaya variety from the same grocery store in Baltimore. The outbreak has since spread beyond Maryland, where there are currently five documented cases: Most affected patients are in New York (13) and New Jersey (12), while other illnesses have been reported in Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, and Virginia.
The CDC has yet to isolate the particular contamination point along the supply chain that’s led to this outbreak. As of writing, there are no other varieties of papaya beyond Maradol that’ve been named in this outbreak, though both the CDC and FDA have warned that other companies beyond Caribeña may have distributed contaminated papayas.
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The CDC urges consumers to refrain from eating Maradol papayas at all for the time being. If there’s any doubt over whether a papaya is a Maradol papaya, it’s best to ask the vendor what the place of purchase was. And if the doubt lingers, the CDC recommends that you discard those papayas entirely and rigorously sanitize any surfaces where you prepped or stored the papayas.
Mayukh Sen is a James Beard Award-winning food and culture writer in New York. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Bon Appetit, and elsewhere. He won a 2018 James Beard Award in Journalism for his profile of Princess Pamela published on Food52.