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Papaya Purée

Papaya Purée Was Filled With Plastic

Papaya purée was sold in Costa Rica as organic, the fruit packed in thick gelatin. Analysis of samples by scientists

showed that it contained plastic shards and fragments.

 

The study has caused havoc with the Costa Rican market because many there are ready to abandon the local product.

The government’s agricultural department is concerned that this scandal could affect their export business too,

particularly to other countries where regulations are less strict than those imposed by Costa Rica’s biotech law.

These regulations prohibit any kind of genetically modified produce or animals, which could leave other countries

wondering whether or not to import it.

MLO Organic Papaya Purée, which is produced in Costa Rica contains numerous plastic particles. Scientists at the

Instituto Nacional de Biotecnología y Genética Moleculares (INBIOMOL) found that it contained small plastic

shards and fragments. The shards are thought to have come from the packaging of the product, so contamination

probably happened during packaging.

Papaya Purée

The INBIOMOL certified Organic Papaya Purée was grown via organic methods by the Costa Rican company Pura

Vida Organics under license from MLO GmbH Germany, who are also certified Organic producers. The papaya purée

is sold in Costa Rica as being free of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Pura Vida Organics claims to have f

ollowed organic practices to avoid contamination, but INBIOMOL found that the plastic in the product was not

caused by contamination during processing, but instead by the packaging it came in.

 

The Pura Vida Papaya Purée was produced in Costa Rica in 2012, and then distributed in Germany in 2013. After the

initial tests were carried out on the purée, it was further analyzed with highly sensitive equipment to check whether

any other products contained plastic. The scientists detected tiny plastic shards inside another package of organic

papaya purée sold by Pura Vida Organics. These shards are similar to those found in Organic Papaya Purée. But the

company said the plastic originated from packaging, not contamination during processing.

 

“How have these plastic particles got into the organic papaya purée? The answer is that these plastic particles are not

part of the organic production, but are made during packing,” says Dr. Michael Meusel , biologist and co-author of

the study. Meusel heads the INBIOMOL biotechnology department. He explains that although there are no reports

of plastics entering organic farming in Costa Rica , this contamination shows how careful organic farmers must be

when handling their produce. We have to find out

what kind of plastic this is, if it came from the material used to package the papaya purée or from the machinery that

processes it,” adds Meusel.

Papaya Purée

It is thought that this contamination did not happen during processing and packaging of the organic produce, but

happened during packaging. The plastic contamination probably originated in packaging materials or in machinery

used for transportation. “There are many different kinds of plastics and we must determine exactly which kind of

plastic is present,” said Dr. Meusel.

 

under certain conditions; though some countries may accept these standards, others might not. The biotech law in

Costa Rica also prohibits the growing, import and distribution of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). [Source:

CNN]

The former supply chain was not certified organic by the ministry of agriculture, but rather by a private company in

Germany.

Papaya Purée

Papaya is one of Costa Rica’s biggest exports. According to statistics from the National Tourism Council (consejo

nacional de turismo), Costa Rica exported 2 million kg of papaya in 2011 and 3 million kg in 2012.

 

Yet some might not be ready to give up the fruit. “Pura Vida Organics is an excellent producer of organic papaya

purée, grown under strict conditions that guarantee that no contamination occurs. Costa Rica is one of the most

respected countries for organic production, and our farmers are aware of these principles. We urge all consumers

who may have purchased this purée to give it some examination to see whether there are any plastic fragments

mixed in.

 

The Papaya Project, set up to promote papaya cultivation in Costa Rica, says the contamination could affect the

industry’s credibility. “It would be really sad if something like this happened, because it could impact not only Costa

Rica ‘s export market, but also jeopardize the export market for all other exporting countries. The Costa Rican

papaya sector is vital to our economy and we cannot afford anything to jeopardize this sector,” said Javiera Denton,

coordinator of The Papaya Project.

Papaya Purée

“We must make sure that these kind of incidents do not happen again. If they do happen, then it will be much more

difficult to export organic products out of here,” said Denton .

“It’s not just papaya. It can be anything, since this is an issue of globalized agriculture,” added Denton.

“This is a very serious issue which could seriously affect Costa Rica ‘s organic exports industry,” said Victor Campos,

director of the national program for the preservation of agricultural biodiversity in Costa Rica . Campos assures that

he knows nothing about this case, but that it is crucial to find out what kind of plastic it is and whether they are

packing materials or if they come from machinery used to package them . Campos claims that his program has strict

organic certification procedures to avoid these situations, but they are up against “very big corporations with very big

money. We need to make sure that this one does not occur again.”

Papaya Purée

The Pura Vida Organics company would not answer a question from INBIOMOL concerning the results of the Instead they sent INBIOMOL a

statement making some critical claims regarding the biotechnology service of Inbiomol’s tests:

 

“Inbiomol has conducted a highly selective and combined tests with very sensitive equipment to analyze our organic

products. That is why we believe that their findings are an abuse.” “We firmly reject their negative accusations, for

both what they say and what does not come out in their report.

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