December 7, 2016

Caramel Apple Listeria Outbreak 1 Year Later

One year ago, health officials made a surprising and sad discovery. For the first time, the source of a Listeria outbreak had been identified as caramel apples. Before it ended, the outbreak spread to 12 states before ending with 35 sick and seven dead, according the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s final report. Listeria infections cause symptoms including fever, muscle aches, headache, diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms. Among pregnant women, Listeria infections can trigger miscarriages, stillbirths, premature delivery and Listeria meningitis in newborns. In this outbreak, 11 cases were associated with pregnancy including three premature births and one fetal loss.  Three pediatric cases of Listeria meningitis were also reported. Case patients, who ranged … [Read more...]

Listeria Study Prompts Kroger To Stop Selling Unrefrigerated Caramel Apples

The Kroger Co. announced yesterday that its family of grocery stores will no longer sell unrefrigerated caramel apples that have been pierced with dipping sticks because of a new study that found they support the growth of Listeria. The study, conducted by the Food Research Institute at the University of Wisconsin Madison, was prompted by the  2014 Listeria outbreak, which sickened 35 people, killing seven of them. "After reviewing the study, we have decided to voluntarily withdraw unrefrigerated caramel apples from our stores," said Dr. Payton Pruett, Kroger's vice president of food safety. "While we believe the potential health risk is minimal, we are acting out of an abundance of caution on behalf of our customers." Kroger operates 2,623 supermarkets in 34 states and the District … [Read more...]

FDA 483 Report on Bidart Brothers Apples Finds Listeria

According to FDA's form 483, inspectors found Listeria monocytogenes bacteria at the Bidart Brothers packing house. A multistate outbreak of Listeria was linked to commercially produced caramel apples made from that company's produce. The report, based on inspections conducted on December 23, 24, and 29 in 2014 and on January 6, 2015 states "during an inspection of your firm we observed food that has been prepared, packed, or held under insanitary conditions whereby it may have been contaminated with filthy, or whereby it may have been rendered injurious to health." The inspectors were officials form the FDA and the California Department of Public Health. FDA inspectors collected 110 environmental swabs from food and non-food contact surfaces in the packaging area, common cold … [Read more...]

What Scientists Say about Listeria and Pregnancy

Bidart Bros. Listeria caramel apple outbreak was a grim reminder about the special threat listeriosis poses to expecting mothers and their babies. As analyzed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),  eleven of the 35 illnesses attributed to the outbreak were pregnancy-related, with one case resulting in a fetal loss. One of the expecting mothers passed the Listeria bacteria to her fetus and the baby was born with an infection that required a month of  treatment in the neo-natal intensive care unit of Lovelace Hospital in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Dr. Vanitha Janakiraman, writing in Obstetrics and Gynecology, provided in-depth information about the relationship between Listeria food poisoning and pregnancy. Infection from the pathogen is rare, but 20 more times common in … [Read more...]

FDA: Food Poisoning Outbreaks Are Increasing

Food poisoning outbreaks are on the rise, according to the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  And their scope can be be much larger today than ever before. Better detection is one reason for the increase in the number of outbreaks reported annually, but another is the globalization of the food supply, the agency said in report it put together for Public Health Week. In the report, the agency describes how  it does its job and the challenges it faces. Because of the way our system getting food from farm to table has changed, outbreaks can happen in widely separated areas making them difficult to detect. In the caramel apple Listeria outbreak, for example, 35 cases were reported from 12 states- a block of seven states sharing borders in the Southwest: Arizona, California, … [Read more...]

How the Government Solved the Caramel Apple Listeria Outbreak

The Listeria monocytogenes outbreak linked to commercially prepared caramel apples (and some plain apples) last fall was a scary time. People don't usually think of something as innocuous as a caramel apple as being a vehicle for pathogenic bacteria. But fruits and vegetables are often contaminated. In this particular outbreak, at least 35 people in 12 states were sickened, and the illness contributed to at least three of the seven reported deaths. The outbreak was difficult to solve, since the product was made from several ingredients, including wooden sticks and sprinkles. The Listeria Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) Project was a big help for government officials in solving the outbreak. Government scientists used samples from patients, foods, and the environment at Bidart … [Read more...]

Caramel Apple Listeria Lawsuit Filed on Behalf of Minnesota Man

A lawsuit was filed on behalf of a Minnesota man who allegedly contracted a Listeria infection, listeriosis, from contaminated caramel apples he purchased at a Cottage Grove, Minnesota, Cub Foods store. The complaint, filed in Fourth Judicial District Court in Hennepin County, names Bidart Bros. Inc. and Supervalu Inc. as defendants (Spear v. Bidart Bros. Inc, Supervalu Inc, Cub Foods, Case No. 27-CV-15-4555). The Minnesota man is one of thirty-five confirmed listeriosis cases in an outbreak linked to caramel apples made with Bidart Bros. apples and sold under the brand names Carnival, Happy Apples, and Merb’s Candies. People from 12 states were sickened: Arizona, California, Colorado, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Texas, Utah, Washington, and … [Read more...]

Sequencing the Deadly Caramel Apple Listeria Outbreak

Starting in October 2014 when the caramel apple Listeria outbreak was claiming its first victims, public health officials in states like Minnesota, Arizona, Missouri, New Mexico and Texas were about to receive the first indications of a lethal food poisoning problem from an unlikely source. It took two months to coalesce, but state reporting of individual cases of listeriosis and federal monitoring of those reports with a system of genetic fingerprinting tied the cases together: pre-packaged, commercially produced caramel apples were making people deathly ill and sending them to the hospital. Listeria lawsuit court records, state health agency documents, outbreak reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and an investigation summary filed by the Food and Drug … [Read more...]

11 of 35 Caramel Apple Listeria Cases Related to Pregnancy

Eleven of the 35  caramel apple Listeria cases were related to pregnancy, including newborns who contracted the infection in utero,  pre-term deliveries and one fetal loss.  The 12-state outbreak sickened 35 people and killed seven before ending last week. Pregnant women are 10 times more likely than the general population to contract Listeria infections. When they do, the infection can pass to her fetus causing miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, listeriosis or Listeria meningitis in the infant and death. “Every Listeria case is serious, but when newborn babies are infected, it is absolutely heartbreaking for the families,” said Brendan Flaherty, a food safety attorney with PritzkerOlsen, who filed a lawsuit on behalf of a New Mexico woman whose son was born several months … [Read more...]

Caramel Apple Listeria Outbreak Struck 12th State, CO, Before Ending

The caramel apple Listeria outbreak spread to a 12th state, Colorado, before ending with 35 sick and seven dead, according the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's final report. State an federal health agencies did not provide the age or gender of the case patient in Colorado who was among the 34 people hospitalized with Listeria infections. All but three of those sickened reported eating commercially prepared, pre-packaged caramel apples before they became ill. A number of recalls were issued for caramel apples. An apple recall was also issued after tests on apples from one supplier, Bidart Brothers, were positive for Listeria. The recalled Gala and Granny Smith apples were sold under various brand names including Granny’s Best and Big B. The recalled caramel apples were … [Read more...]

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