December 3, 2016

Study Finds Listeria Grows in Caramel Apples with a Stick

A study conducted at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and published in mBio has found that caramel apples can support the growth of Listeria monocytogenes bacteria. The huge 2014 outbreak linked to caramel apples was unexpected because apples have a pH too low for bacterial growth, and the available water in caramel is too low as well. In the study, Granny Smith apples were inoculated with Listeria monocytogenes bacteria on the skin, stem, and calyx. Half of the apples had sticks inserted; the others did not. The apples were dipped into hot caramel and stored at either 7°C or 25°C. The study revealed that apples with inserted sticks had significantly more growth of Listeria bacteria than apples without sticks stored under both temperature conditions.  The bacterial growth was less … [Read more...]

Caramel Apple Listeria Recall Totaled 15.25 Million Pounds

New enforcement documents on file with the Food and Drug Administration show the full spectrum of apple recalls made by Bidart Bros. -- a voluntary action that applied to 15.25 million pounds of Gala and Granny Smith varieties from the 2014 harvest. The product quantities totaled 33,900 cases of Gala apples and 347,970 cases of Granny Smith apples, with each case weighing between 40-45 pounds, according to the reports. Distribution incorporated Minnesota, California, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Washington, Tennessess, Texas, Michigan, Arizona, Maryland, Oregon, Kansas, Illinois, Georgia, New Jersey, Iowa, Louisiana, Missouri and Canada. The Bakersfield, Calif., company is facing numerous Listeria apple lawsuits in connection with an outbreak that hospitalized 34 people in 12 … [Read more...]

Listeria Deaths in Caramel Apple Outbreak Raise Total for Year

One Listeria death for every five cases of listeriosis is the average mortality rate for Listeria food poisoning cases tracked in the United States by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is an average that fit the caramel apple Listeria outbreak with the same tragic consequences that health experts saw in other outbreaks of listeriosis in 2014. The seven case patients who died with listeriosis after eating pre-packaged, commercially produced caramel apples  lifted last year's Listeria death total in the U.S. to 13, from four outbreaks. State and federal agencies have associated the caramel apple outbreak with fruit supplied by California-based Bidart Brothers Inc. In all, 13 of 50 Listeria outbreak case patients died and one fetal loss was suffered. Not every … [Read more...]

Missouri Links Were Central to Caramel Apple Listeria Outbreak

Five Missouri residents were confirmed as case patients in the Listeria caramel apple outbreak and two Missouri food companies were involved in key recalls of caramel apples that they distributed around the country. Only one other state besides Missouri had more than five listeriosis victims in the outbreak and one of the state's recalls covered caramel apples made by a Missouri company for Kroger stores in many different parts of the country. From the outset of public awareness of this outbreak in mid- to late-December, Missouri citizens and companies were in the discussion. On December 24, 2014, the Happy Apple Company of Washington, Missouri, issued a  recall of many Happy Apple Brand caramel apples because they had the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. Some … [Read more...]

Arizona Confirms 5th Patient in Listeria Caramel Apple Outbreak

Arizona marked its fifth case of Listeria from caramel apples in January, making it a leading state in a deadly outbreak that also has harmed a number of babies and expecting mothers. Now with five case patients, the Grand Canyon State  has as many confirmed illnesses in the outbreak as Missouri and just one less than New Mexico, which leads all states with six listeriosis victims who fell sick after eating commercially produced, pre-packaged caramel apples. With two other new cases recorded in early January, the collective toll now stands at 35 Listeria infections in 12 states attributed to contaminated caramel apples. Minnesota, Wisconsin, Texas and California also have multiple residents who were infected. According to a revised outbreak summary published by the Centers for Disease … [Read more...]

Arizona Shares Pain of Listeria Outbreak Linked to Caramel Apples

Arizona was on the receiving end of caramel apples that were contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, an unfortunate distribution that left four state residents hospitalized from the potentially deadly infections that followed. The four confirmed outbreak cases in Arizona stand as the third most for any state. One of the victims was a baby with Listeria and three of the four are females who range in age up to 76. At least in Arizona, no fatalities were reported. In New Mexico and California, food safety lawyers are suing the supplier of the apples, Bidart Brothers, on behalf of several case patients, one of whom died. More litigation is expected in other states as the investigation continues into a reported 32 illnesses and seven deaths across 11 states. Evidence of matching strains of … [Read more...]

Caramel Apple Lawsuit Filed in New Mexico

National food safety law firm PritzkerOlsen, P.A. filed a lawsuit for a mother and baby sickened in the Listeria monocytogenes outbreak linked to caramel apples. In late October of 2014, a member of Cathy Jone’s family purchased several prepackaged caramel apples from the Smith’s store located at 4016 Louisiana Boulevard Northeast, Albuquerque, New Mexico. Cathy Jones, pregnant at the time, ate one. On November 7, she began to feel ill. On November 8, her son was born several months prematurely. The baby was diagnosed with Listeria monocytogenes. He stayed in the hospital neonatal intensive care unit for over four weeks. Health officials from the New Mexico Department of Health performed pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) testing on the sample of Listeria monocytogenes … [Read more...]

Two Mechanisms for Fetal Infection with Listeria Bacteria

Pregnant women are at high risk for Listeria monocytogenes infections. Almost thirty percent of patients sickened in the current Listeria outbreak linked to caramel apples and plain apples packed by Bidart Brothers are pregnant women. One woman suffered a fetal loss. How are babies infected with this pathogenic bacteria when the mother eats contaminated food? There are two mechanisms for fetal infection, called early onset and late onset. Early onset occurs when a transplancental infection occurs: the bacteria has progressed to the placenta, where it is shielded from the mother's immune system and grows rapidly. A Listeria infection in pregnant women usually only produces mild symptoms including fever, headache, chills, back pain, and diarrhea. Those symptoms mimic the flu, which can … [Read more...]

Caramel Apple Lawsuit Filed Against Walmart, Bidart

Walmart and Bidart Brothers Apple Packing are named as defendants in a lawsuit filed on behalf of a California woman who has spent more than a month in the hospital after contracting listeriosis from a caramel apple. The suit was filed January 13 in Superior Court in Sacramento. According to the complaint,  Darlene Vouri and her husband Francis Vouri purchase caramel apples on October 14, 2014 from the Wal–Mart located at 5454 Crossings Drive in Rocklin, Calif. Within a few days of eating them, Darlene began to experince symptoms of a Listeria infection including headache, neck pain, fatigue, chills, and muscle aches and weakness. Over the course of the next two weeks, Mrs. Vouri went to the doctor several times as her condition deteriorated.  On November 8, she collapsed and was … [Read more...]

Why are Pregnant Women So at Risk for Listeria Infections?

The ongoing Listeria monocytogenes outbreak linked to commercially prepared, prepackaged caramel apples and that may be associated with plain apples packed by Bidart Brothers has sickened 32 people and killed seven. Ten of these illnesses were in pregnant women; one woman suffered a fetal loss. Why is this infection so serious in pregnant women? One theory is that in pregnancy, the immune system is suppressed so the body doesn't reject the embryo and fetus. This reduction in immunity may be why these women are so susceptible to listeriosis and why the complications can be so severe. Researchers at Berkeley, however, discovered that Listeria monocytogenes bacteria use the immune system suppression to invade the placenta where they are protected from the mother's immune system. Once … [Read more...]

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