That caramelized apple you may be tempted to eat in the New Year may be dangerous to your health. The Centers for Disease Control updated their alert today reporting five people have died and that 29 people in 10 states have been infected with an outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes.
Food and Drug Administration alerts have notified healthcare professionals and medical care groups of the continuing investigation of a burst of listeriosis cases “linked to commercially-produced, prepackaged caramel apples.”
“Listeriosis can be fatal, especially in certain high-risk groups,” the CDC stated in release to medical professionals. “These groups include the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems and certain chronic medical conditions such as cancer. FDA and state investigators are working to identify the source of contamination and to determine what products may be contaminated.”
At least one source, California Snack Foods, issued a voluntary recall on Dec. 27, 2014 for “California Snack Foods brand caramel apples with a best use by date between August 15th and November 28th 2014.”
“Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women,” the voluntary recall statement stated. Nine illnesses of this outbreak were reported to be pregnancy-related.
“California Snack Foods caramel apples are sold in single packs and three packs and each package will have a best use by date on the front of the label. They were available for retail sale through grocery, discount and club stores, generally in the produce section and were distributed to retailers in the following states: Arizona, California, Nevada, Texas and Utah,” the statement from the snack food company said.
According to the CDC, distribution of these apples were sent to these states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin.
California Snack Foods, who have been working with the FDA in their investigation of the current outbreak of Listeriosis associated with caramel apples, said they “recently received notice from Bidart Brothers, one of our apple suppliers that there may be a connection between this outbreak and the apples that they supplied to our facility.”
“We used the last of the Bidart Brothers apples in the first week of November 2014,” they stated. “The caramel apples produced with Bidart Brothers apples should no longer be available in stores, however, out of an abundance of caution and concern for consumer safety, we are recommending that consumers follow the advice of the CDC and remove any caramel apples you may have in storage and dispose of them in a secure container to avoid potential contamination in animals.”
The CDC has recommended to health professional to inform “patients to not eat commercially-produced, prepackaged whole caramel apples, including those containing nuts, sprinkles, chocolate, or other toppings, until more specific guidance can be provided. Consumers should throw away any commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples that they may have in their homes until more specific guidance can be provided.”
“Anyone who experiences fever and muscle aches, sometimes preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms, or develops fever and chills after eating commercially-produced, prepackaged caramel apples should seek medical care and tell the health care provider about any history of eating those caramel apples.”