October 19, 2018

FDA Statement on Caramel Apple Listeria Outbreak

On Christmas Day, the FDA issued a statement on the Listeria monocytogenes outbreak linked to commercially prepared caramel apples. As of December 22, 2014, 29 people in 10 states have been sickened in this outbreak, and five deaths have been reported. Nine of the illnesses were pregnancy-related.

FDAPublic health officials interviewed 23 people in this outbreak; 20 of them ate commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples before they got sick. The Minnesota Department of Health reported four illnesses. Those people bought caramel apples from Cub Foods, Kwik Trip, and Mike’s Discount Foods, which sold Carnival and Kitchen Cravings brand caramel apples that are no longer available.

On December 24, 2014, the Happy Apple Company of Washington, Missouri voluntarily recalled their caramel apples with a “best use by” date between August 25 and November 23, 2014, because they may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. That company received notice from Bidart Brothers, an apple supplier, that there may be a connection between the listeriosisĀ outbreak and the apples supplied to the Happy Apple Company’s California facility.

Happy Apple brand caramel apples are sold in single pack, three pack, four pack, and eight pack containers. Each package has a “best use by” date on the front of the label. They were available through grocery, discount, and club stores and usually sold in the produce section of the supermarket. They were distributed to retailers inĀ Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin.

If you ate any of these apples, monitor yourself for the symptoms of listeriosis for the next 70 days. Those symptoms include fever, muscle aches, diarrhea, nausea, chills, and stiff neck. The illness can be very serious, especially among the elderly, people with weakened immune systems, those with chronic diseases, and pregnant women. In addition, pregnant women may only have a mild illness similar to the flu, but listeriosis can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, and infection in the newborn baby. If you do get sick, see your doctor and tell him you ate one of these recalled products.

If you purchased any of these apples, do not eat them. In fact, do not eat any commercially produced, prepackaged whole caramel apples until further notice. Throw them away in a sealed container, and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. Then clean the areas where the apples were stored, including the refrigerator, with a mild bleach solution.

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