TEXAS CITY, Texas – Bananas are the most popular fresh fruit in America and a weekly grocery staple for many families. But, you don’t see what is on the inside until you get it home and peel it and what one Texas City woman found when she did have us asking questions.
Blended in fruit smoothies, baked in muffins, or just all by themselves - on average we each eat more than 13 pounds of bananas a year! That includes Ashley Eisemann’s family.
“Every week I put bananas on my grocery order,” said Eisemann.
But two days after a Sunday grocery pickup, Eisemann’s toddler didn’t want her usual banana snack.
“She wasn’t wanting to eat it and she had had an upset tummy. She was eating bananas Sunday and Monday,” said Eisemann. “I didn’t notice anything wrong with them.
She didn’t notice anything wrong until she cut one open.
“It was just black center of banana and I freaked out. I sliced it, cut it open and they all had this mold fungus. Just this really disgusting horrid look inside of them,” she said.
H-E-B said this appears to be Mokillo, a bacteria that can occur naturally on the banana flower tip. Dole sent an advisory to grocery stores a few months ago after they said a few instances of Mokillo were discovered. Dole told KPRC 2 that the bacteria usually correlates with high rainfall events like those seen in recent months in Latin American growing regions. They said the bacteria are not harmful to eat.
Hard to know about banana fungus before you buy
Growers like Dole and grocery stores like H-E-B can’t detect it because the mold grows on the inside as the banana ripens.
“Just because a banana looks perfect on the outside you might want to check what’s on the inside. It’s very deceiving that the core of the banana may be black,” said Eisemann.
Dole’s research and development department is looking into the epidemiology of the disease and effective ways to prevent the problem from happening in the future. In the meantime, H-E-B told us if customers buy bananas and find this mold inside they can return them to the store for a refund.
We also reached out to Kroger, Walmart, and Aldi to see if they have received reports from customers about the black bacteria in bananas sold at their stores. Kroger said they have not had any reports. Walmart and Aldi have not gotten back to us.