The U.S. Food & Drug Administration has intensified efforts to notify consumers and foodservice operators about a nationwide recall of imported frozen mamey fruit pulp linked to potentially life-threatening typhoid fever illnesses in California and Nevada.
As a precaution, the FDA is advising consumers with an interest in ordering mamey smoothies or drinks made with that fruit to ask their market or juice bar operator what brand of mamey pulp they're using. The agency also urged foodservice operators and other businesses to immediately halt sales of any products using the recalled pulp.
The FDA issued an alert late Friday about the “urgent” voluntary recall of pulp from the fruit of the mamey sapote tree sold under the La Nuestra brand by Montalvan Sales Inc. of Ontario, Calif., and under the Goya brand by Goya Foods Inc. in Secaucus, N.J. It said nine confirmed cases of salmonella Typhi infection in an ongoing outbreak have been linked to the recalled fruit products and that some of the ill individuals reported having consumed mamey smoothies at juice stands.
The FDA said the investigation of the outbreak is being handled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and state health departments. It noted that Montalvan and Goya Foods get their mamey fruit from a common supplier in Guatemala.
The recalled Goya product, which is sold in 14-ounce packages in retail stores nationwide, has a UPC number of 041331090803, the FDA said.
The FDA said the La Nuestra brand mamey pulp from Montalvan comes in 14-ounce plastic packages with a UPC number of 7-56869-10008-4 and was distributed in Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon and Utah. La Nuestra mamey pulp produced prior to May 2009, though not identified with a lot number, is covered by the recall.
According to the FDA, mamey fruit, which is sometime referred to as "zapote,” is large and round, has brown skin and a fleshy orange pulp. It is grown mainly in the tropical lowlands of Central America and is very popular among the Hispanic community, especially in juices and fruit shakes called “batidos.”
Goya Foods’ recall of mamey pulp was initially publicized by the FDA on Aug. 13 and mentioned a possible link to salmonella, but not the Typhi strain that typically requires hospitalization for antibiotic treatments. The Montalvan recall of La Nuestra mamey pulp was first noted on Aug. 18 by the FDA, which was followed two days later with the recall alert mentioning both brands.
Typhoid fever is most common in developing countries and can cause high fevers, stomach pains, headache or loss of appetite, the FDA said. Infection results from consuming food or beverages that have been handled by a person who is shedding salmonella Typhi or if sewage contaminated with the salmonella strain gets into the water used for drinking or washing food.
Typhoid outbreaks can be very problematic, the FDA noted, because a small number of persons, called carriers, may recover from typhoid fever but continue to carry the bacteria and spread it to others.
Contact Alan J. Liddle at [email protected]