June 4, 2023

Caramel Apple Lawsuit Names Happy Apple, Bidart Brothers, Safeway

A wrongful death lawsuit filed in connection with the caramel apple Listeria outbreak names the apple grower, the caramel apple maker and the store that sold the contaminated product as defendants.  Filed on behalf of one of the three people who have died in this 10-state outbreak, the wrongful death lawsuit initially named Safeway, the store where the caramel apple was purchased. But, after a recall was issued, the grower, Bidart Brothers, and the maker, Happy Apple, were added.

GavelsAccording to the lawsuit, Shirlee Jean Frey, 81, died after contracting listeriosis from a caramel apple she purchased at Safeway just before Halloween. She began to feel ill the first week of November and was dead one month later.

The two other deaths were reported in Minnesota, which has been hard hit by the outbreak with four of the 29 cases reported so far. About a dozen of those sickened are over the age of 64, but the outbreak also includes three children who developed Listeria meningitis, and nine illnesses linked to pregnancy, including three newborns in New Mexico who were delivered prematurely with Listeria infections.

Symptoms of a Listeria infection  include fever, muscle aches, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions. Among pregnant women, listeriosis can lead to miscarriage or stillbirth, premature delivery, or infection of the newborn baby. Symptoms begin from 3 to 70 days after eating food contaminated with the bacteria.

This potentially long incubation period is key. The latest “best if used by date” for Happy Apples was November 23, so consumers who ate these apples in late November should watch themselves for symptoms until early February. Walmart, Sam’s Club and Safeway are among the stores that sold Happy Apples.

In Minnesota, Carnival brand and Kitchen Cravings brand caramel apples were linked to the outbreak. They were sold seasonally at Cub Foods, Kwik Trip, and Mike’s Discount Foods but are no longer on store shelves.

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