July 16, 2018

Listeria Outbreak in Canada Associated with Imported U.S. Caramel Apples

The Public Health Agency of Canada is reporting that two people are sick with listeriosis in Canada with the same genetic fingerprint as seen in the Listeria monocytogenes outbreak in the U.S. that is linked to commercially produced caramel apples. The outbreak in the United States has sickened at least 29 people and killed five. Public health officials are investigating to see if these people consumed prepackaged caramel apples imported from the U.S.

Caramel ApplesPublic officials in Canada are advising that Canadians do not eat commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples imported from the United States until further notice. This includes plain caramel apples as well as those made with nuts, sprinkles, chocolate, or other toppings. The products have a shelf life of one month so people may have them in their homes.

One of the ill persons lives in Manitoba, and the other in Ontario. The status of these people is not known at this time. The CFIA is working with U.S. officials to determine if those people ate imported caramel apples or if any more of these potentially affected products may have been distributed in Canada. If more products are identified, the public will be informed.

If you do have commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples imported from the U.S. in your home, throw them away in a sealed container. If you have a candy apple product and aren’t sure if it qualifies as a caramel apple, throw it away. Then wash your hands thoroughly and clean the area where the product was stored with a mild bleach solution.

Listeria monocytogenes can cause serious illness, with symptoms that include fever, muscle aches, nausea, diarrhea, headache, neck stiffness, and seizures. The incubation period for this bacteria is about 21 days, but can be as long as 70 days after exposure. If you ate a commercially prepared, prepackaged caramel apple imported from the U.S., monitor yourself for the symptoms of this illness for the next 70 days. If you do become ill, see your doctor. Pregnant women need to be especially wary of this illness, since it can cause miscarriage and stillbirth, in addition to infection in the newborn baby.

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