September 15, 2019

Caramel Apple Listeria Outbreak Timeline

Seven people have died in the caramel apple Listeria outbreak that has sickened 32 people in 11 states. The age range for case patients spans nine decades and includes three pediatric cases of Listeria meningitis, three premature births, 1 fetal loss and six other cases related to pregnancy.

Caramel Apples DeluxHealth officials have linked the outbreak to contaminated apples produced by Bidart Brothers of Bakersfield, Calif. Here is a timeline of key events since the outbreak was announced one month ago.

December 18 The Minnesota Department of Health announces that a multistate Listeria outbreak linked to caramel apples includes four Minnesotans, two of whom have died. 

The agency identifies Carnival and Kitchen Cravings brands caramel apples sold at Kwik Trip, Mike’s Disccount Foods and Cub Foods as being linked to the outbreak, the brands are no longer on store shelves.

December 19 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announces that the outbreak includes 28 people in 10 state and that five people have died. The states are: Arizona, California, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin.

The agency says all case patients interviewed reported eating commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples before they became ill and that “no illnesses related to this outbreak have been linked to apples that are not caramel-coated and not prepackaged or to caramel candy.”

Neither the  CDC nor the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) name brands of caramel apples or stores involved instead warning consumers not to eat any prepackaged, commercially prepared caramel apples.

December 22  The CDC announces an additional case in Wisconsin that brings the total to 29 illnesses in 10 states. The agency says all case patients interviewed reported eating commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples before they became ill and that “no illnesses related to this outbreak have been linked to apples that are not caramel-coated and not prepackaged or to caramel candy.”

December 23  A wrongful death lawsuit is filed on behalf of a California woman who died after eating contracting listeriosis from a caramel apple. The suit names Safeway grocery stores as a defendant because that is where the apple was purchased, according to the complaint.  Outside of Minnesota, this is the first time information about a retailer comes to light.

December 24 Happy Apple Co issues a recall for caramel apples after being notified by its apple supplier, Bidart Brothers, that the apples may be contaminated with Listeria. The recall is for caramel apples with best use by date between August 25th and November 23rd 2014.

December 24, 2014, The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) announced a recall in Canada of Happy Apple brand caramel apples for possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination.

December 25 Public Health Canada reports that two cases of listeriosis in Canada have been linked to prepackaged, commercially produced caramel apples and that the cases may be part of the U.S. outbreak.

December 26 Food Poisoning Bulletin reports Happy Apples were sold at Walmart and Sam’s Club.

Decemebr 28 California Snack Foods recalls Karm’l Dapples caramel apples because they may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes bacteria. All styles of Karm’l Dapples are recalled.

December 30 Merb’s Candies recals Bionic Apples and Double Dipped Apples that were available for sale in St. Louis area locations, through local supermarkets in the produce section, and through mail order nationwide.

December 31 Happy Apple recall expands to include Kroger brand.

December 31 The CDC announces that 32 people in 11 states have been sickened, six people have died and one pregnancy has ended with a fetal loss.

The agency says all 26 people interviewed reported eating commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples before becoming ill and “that no illnesses related to this outbreak have been linked to apples that are not caramel-coated and not prepackaged or to caramel candy.”

December 31 The FDA says in its update that Bidart Brothers has issued two recalls, although neither of them had been made public. The first, on December 22, 2014, when Bidart Bros. issued a recall of Granny Smith apples it sold to customers known to produce caramel apples.  The second, on December 24, 2014, when Bidart Bros. notified all customers receiving Granny Smith apples in 2014 to recall those apples if they had been used to make caramel apples.”

January 7 The Canadian Food Inspection Agency posts a Bidart recall saying all Gala apples produced during 2014 are being recalled for potential Listeria. The announcement says it is an expansion of the recall for the full year of Granny Smith apples although the Granny Smith recall had not been posted publicly. The recall mentions two brand names, Granny’s Best and Big B.

January 8 The CDC announces Listeria was found at the Bidart plant and that a recall for Granny Smith and Gala apples has been issued. The agency makes important changes in its reporting.

Instead of saying all patients interviewed reported eating caramel apples before they became sick, the agency now says three patients did not eat caramel apples, but rather plain green apples that were either whole or sliced.

The line “no illnesses related to this outbreak have been linked to apples that are not caramel-coated and not prepackaged or to caramel candy” which has appeared in all previous updates, does not appear.

No brand names of Granny Smith or Gala apples are mentioned and neither are names of stores where they were sold. Consumers are advised to contact the store where they were purchased apples and ask who the supplier was.

January 8 The FDA announces that Listeria found at the Bidart plant has triggered a recall of all Granny Smith and Gala apples packed at Bidart’s California plant during 2014. No brand names or stores are mentioned. Consumers are advised to contact the store where they were purchased apples and ask who the supplier was.

The FDA update still says:  “No illnesses related to this outbreak have been linked to apples that are not caramel-coated and are not prepackaged and no illnesses have been linked to caramel candy.”

January 9 Consumers react to a recall with no helpful information.

January 9 A lawsuit is filed on behalf of a woman and her newborn child who were both sickened after eating a contaminated caramel apple. The complaint, published first in Food Poisoning Bulletin, reveals that the apple was sold at Smith’s Food and Drug in Albuquerque.

January 10 The CDC announces that a seventh person has died.

January 13  Although they do not state that they have been updated, the CDC’s  announcements have all been changed. No longer do the updates prior to January 8 state that all patients interviewed ate caramel apples. Instead, they now give totals such as 15 of 18, or 23 of 26  patients interviewed ate caramel apples.

The FDA copies this language. And, like the CDC, has removed the line “No illnesses related to this outbreak have been linked to apples that are not caramel-coated and are not prepackaged and no illnesses have been linked to caramel candy.”

Neither agency has released the names of stores where consumers may have purchased apples contaminated with a bacteria that has hospitalized 31 of 32 people and killed seven of them. Both still advise consumers to contact the store where they were purchased apples and ask who the supplier was.

Comments

  1. Sure sounds like another cover-up, doesn’t it. The agencies that are ‘supposed’ to serve and protect the American people, don’t do a good job of it. They are better at protecting the industries they are ‘supposed’ to oversee or regulate. Par for the course.

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