Typhoid in the Frozen Fruit Aisle

Only the mamey fruit pulp has been recalled.

You probably aren’t a huge consumer of frozen mamey fruit pulp. Mamey is a sweet tropical fruit grown in South and Central America; here, it’s primarily sold peeled, mashed and frozen, often for use in smoothies. The product is sold under the La Nuestra and Goya brands and has been recalled (voluntarily, of course, the FDA has no such powers). (You may also find it in use at juice stands.)

Compared to the egg recall, this is small news: there may be seven people hospitalized with Typhoid (three in California, four in Nevada) but mamey pulp is a product with a fairly limited market. Unlike eggs, most of us aren’t going to need to run and check the freezer.  But even if you’ve never heard of a mamey, let alone considered pulping one, this is news worth noting. Typhoid? Typhoid, in the freezer aisle? Any chance that will be popping up among the frozen strawberries next year?

Well, it never has. There have been three other typhoid outbreaks in the US in the last 12 years, one linked to Gulf Oysters (not eating many of those at the moment anyway–gee, thanks BP? who knew you were really looking out for us?), one to a specific restaurant employee, and another to more mamey fruit (a fruit I am now officially unlikely to ever try). But typhoid finds its way to us via the Salmonella typhi bacteria, found commonly on the hands of a typhoid carrier who’s just been to the bathroom and has failed to wash his or her hands properly. Yum…that infamous fecal bacteria gets you every time.

Typhiod is more common in developing countries. Wikipedia has a map showing where typhoid is endemic and where it’s “strongly endemic.” Two frozen fruit/typhoid instances in 12 years don’t exactly make a pattern, but they do, to me, suggest that a little caution wouldn’t be amiss in purchasing frozen fruit, or even fruit in general. I’m not exactly xenophobic, and I’ve never even tasted mamey fruit. You could argue that what I’ve never had, I won’t miss.

But I remain bummed. One of the great pleasures of life, for me, is trying new things. If I’d happened on a fruit stand selling mamey fruit smoothies, you can bet I would have ordered one, just for the experience. I always go for the thing I’ve never heard of on the menu. Now, I’ll have to wonder if whatever it is isn’t going to go for me as well.

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