February 23, 2019

Caramel Apple Listeria Outbreak Hits Minnesota Hard

The caramel apple Listeria outbreak has hit Minnesota hard. Four people, all adults ages 59-90, were sickened and two of them died.

Caramel ApplesThis outbreak is the largest Listeria outbreak since the cantaloupe Listeria outbreak of 2011, one of the largest food poisoning outbreaks of any kind in U.S. history. That 28-state outbreak sickened 147 people and killed 33. Minnesota was not among the states included in that outbreak.

Of the five multi-state Listeria outbreaks that occurred between cantaloupe and caramel apples, Minnesota reported cases in just one, the Crave Brothers cheese outbreak of 2013. That outbreak sickened six people in five states and one person died.  Minnesota reported two of the cases, including the fatality, in that outbreak.

In this outbreak, three of the Minnesotans who got Listeria infections from contaminated caramel apples were from the Twin Cities metropolitan area. The fourth case was in greater Minnesota.

The Minnesota case patients purchased Carnival brand and Kitchen Cravings brand caramel apples from Cub Foods, Kwik Trip, and Mike’s Discount Foods. They were sold as seasonal item and are no longer on store shelves, but some people may still have them in their homes and should not eat them.

The onset of illness for the Minnesota case patients began in late October and November. All of them were so sick they required hospitalization.

“Listeria thrives in all kinds of food processing environments and can multiply at temperatures as low as 34 degrees,” said Brendan Flaherty, a food safety attorney with Pritzker Olsen in Minneapolis. “We should know more about this Monday but, if history is a guide, something went horribly wrong in the production process.”

The 10-state caramel apple outbreak has sickened a total of 28 people and killed five. By state, the cases reported are as follows: Arizona (4), California (1), Minnesota (4), Missouri (5), New Mexico (5), North Carolina (1), Texas (4), Utah (1), Washington (1), and Wisconsin (2).



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