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2012-2016 Bacterial Pathogens on Mangoes and Papayas


Fresh tropical fruits, such as mangoes and papayas, are consumed in Canada and around the world. Foodborne illness outbreaks associated with mangoes and papayas have been reported worldwide including one in Canada. Therefore, the microbial safety of imported mangoes and papayas remains a concern.

Considering the factors mentioned above and their relevance to Canadians, mangoes and papayas were selected for targeted surveys. The purpose of the survey was to generate baseline information on the occurrence of bacterial pathogens on the surface of mangoes and papayas. Over the course of this study (April 1, 2012 to March 31, 2016), a total of 4710 samples of mangoes (2267, 48.1%) and papayas (2443, 51.9%) were collected from retail locations in 11 cities across Canada and tested for bacterial pathogens of concern: Salmonella, Escherichia coli (E. coli) O157:H7 and Shigella, as well asgeneric E. coli. Generic E. coli is an indicator of the overall sanitation conditions throughout the food chain from production to the point of sale and its presence at some levels is tolerated on agricultural products.

All mango samples (100%) and over 99% of the papaya samples were found to be free of pathogenic bacteria tested for. E. coli O157:H7 and Shigella were not found on any samples tested.

Salmonella, a common bacterial pathogen associated with foodborne illnesses, was found on the surface of two (0.08%) papaya samples. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) conducted appropriate follow-up activities. No product recalls were issued as follow up sampling yielded negative test results for one product and the other product was no longer available on the market. No reported illnesses were in association with any of the Salmonella contaminated samples.

High levels (>1000 colony forming units (CFU)/mL of rinsate) and elevated levels (100 to 1000 CFU/mL of rinsate) of generic E. coli were found on the surface of eight (0.33%) and seven (0.29%) papaya samples respectively.Since these imported fruit samples were sampled in bulk at retail, the surface of the papaya samples may have come in contact with microorganisms at various points from harvest, post-harvest to the point of sale at retail. Consequently it was not possible to determine where the breakdown in sanitation occurred. Therefore, improving sanitation conditions along the food chain was recommended.

The results indicate that almost all of the mangoes and papayas sampled appear to have been produced under Good Agricultural Practices and Good Manufacturing Practices, as there were very few occurrences of high levels of generic E. coli (>1000 CFU/mL of rinsate). Sporadically, Salmonella contamination on papaya can occur.

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