November 20, 2017

Bidart Bros. Publicly Contrite Over Listeria Caramel Apple Outbreak

Minnesota Listeriosis SuitThe California company at the center of a Listeria caramel apple lawsuit has expressed sorrow for victims of the outbreak and pledged to work in complete cooperation with ongoing investigations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). In a public letter published on the FDA’s food safety pages, the family-owned company also said it received annual USDA certification in September 2014, just one month before the outbreak began.

“Our hearts go out to all who have been impacted by the apple-related listeriosis outbreak,” said Leonard Bidart, president of Bidart Bros. “As a family-owned grower operating in California since the 1930s, we place safety at the forefront of everything we do.”

The announcement came as part of a sweeping recall that Bidart issued after FDA testing confirmed that two strains of Listeria monocytogenes were found at the apple processing facility and are believed to be the same strains associated with the outbreak that has sickened 32 people in 11 states. Seven deaths have been recorded among case patients and 10 pregnancies have been harmed. In addition, three children have developed invasive Listeria meningitis.

“The results are devastating to the Bidart family,” Leonard Bidart said in the statement.

Food safety lawyer Fred Pritzker, who is suing Bidart Bros. as the representative for two victims in the caramel apple outbreak,  said he hopes the company’s stated concerns result in full cooperation with the attorneys for all the people who were sickened and hospitalized. And that includes families who lost loved ones to fatal infections caused by poisoned caramel apples, he said.

“The real devastation of this outbreak is borne by the victims, not by the company that caused them to be harmed,” Pritzker said.

High Risk Groups

Listeria bacteria can grow on food even when refrigerated. It is especially harmful to pregnant women, babies, older adults and people who have underdeveloped or weakened immune systems, including cancer patients who are undergoing therapy. The meningitis victims were between the ages of 5 and 15. The seven deaths is in keeping with the frightening statistical norms for fatalities in Listeria outbreaks. The 10 pregnancies harmed in this outbreak have included life-threatening injuries to mothers and babies. In past outbreaks, listeriosis in pregnant women has injured their reproductive health.

Recall

According to the FDA, the outbreak strains of the pathogen were found in Bidart’s apple processing facility in Shafter, Calif., and in Bidart Bros. apples collected from a retailer by the FDA. The recalls related to this outbreak are no longer limited to pre-packaged, commercially produced carmel apples. On Jan. 9, Bidart Brothers recalled all Granny Smith and Gala apples from its 2014 harvest, including “Big B” and “Granny’s Best” brand names. Bidart Bros. last shipped Granny Smith apples to customers on December 2, 2014. Consumers are supposed to ask grocers if the apples they bought came from Bidart.

The apple packing manager at Bidart is Jake Burns in Bakersfield, Calif. The company said it is reviewing all procedures as a result of the outbreak. The ongoing state and federal food safety investigations, as well as litigation work by plaintiff’s lawyers, could help determine what caused the apples at Bidart to become contaminated with Listeria.

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