Hawaii papayas are safe

HONOLULU — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are investigating a multistate outbreak of 62 salmonella illnesses potentially linked to whole, fresh papayas imported specifically from Mexico.

The state departments of health and agriculture emphasized that there is no reason to avoid Hawaii-grown papayas.

“The FDA has informed me that their investigations are centered on papayas imported from Mexico,” said Phyllis Shimabukuro-Geiser with the state Department of Agriculture.

“Our state’s papaya-loving community should be reassured that the fruit grown in Hawaii has not been linked to the outbreak which is mainly occurring in the northeastern U.S.

“Incidences like this underscore the importance of supporting our Hawaii farmers as we move toward increasing food security in our state,” Shimabukuro-Geiser added.

“All locally grown papaya is considered safe to eat,” said Lori Nagatoshi, DOH Food &Drug Branch chief. “Fruits and vegetables are part of a healthy diet, and the best way to reduce the risk of illness from fresh produce is to wash it thoroughly under running water or cook it.”

The state DOA, DOH and the University of Hawaii Cooperative Extension Service remind consumers to thoroughly wash all produce before consuming, no matter where it comes from.

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