One of the largest papaya importers into the US, HLB Specialties, is cautioning retailers and the media to make a clear distinction between the different papaya brands, growers, varieties, and countries of origin when reporting on July’s Salmonella outbreak.
In a bid to clear up any confusion that may have arisen among consumers the company has issued a statement explaining that the outbreak is limited to one specific grower in the south of Mexico, Carica de Campeche, and its brands and that other Maradol papaya brands from Mexico and papayas from Guatemala and Brazil are safe to eat.
“The safety of the consumers is our highest priority. We share their concern, but we also want to provide as much information as possible, so that shoppers can make an educated decision when buying papayas,” said communications director Melissa Hartmann de Barros.
She added: “we are seeing a lot of misinformation circulating, including pictures of the wrong papaya variety being used when referring to the Maradol papaya linked to the Salmonella outbreak.”
Weighing approximately 3lbs, Maradol papayas are large and usually have a fully yellow skin when ripe. Formosa papayas, also known as Tainung papayas, are also large and similar to Maradol in size and weight, but they are greener and ready to eat when only half yellow.
The small Brazilian golden papaya variety, meanwhile, weighs around 1lb, is very sweet and ideal for personal use.
“People want to keep buying papayas, because they taste great and are healthy. But they need help identifying what the different varieties look like,” Hartmann de Barros noted.