According to the CDC, as of January 9, 2015, 32 people infected with the outbreak strains of Listeria monocytogenes have been reported from 11 states. The CDC reports that 31 ill people have been hospitalized. Listeriosis has contributed to three deaths. Ten illnesses were pregnancy-related, with one illness resulting in a fetal loss.
The CDC reports that 25 of the 28 ill people interviewed reported eating commercially-produced, prepackaged whole caramel apples. To date, caramel apple brands named in interviews include Happy Apple, Carnival and Merb’s Candies. However, the investigation is ongoing and other brands may be identified.
Granny Smith and Gala apples are being recalled nationwide after the presence of Listeria was confirmed at an apple processing facility
Apples should be thrown away if they come from grower Bidart Bros. of Bakersfield or if the source cannot be determined, according to Dr. Edward L. Moreno, a public health officer with the Monterey County Health Department.
Listeriosis can be potentially fatal. Symptoms include fever, severe headache, nausea and a stiff neck.
Moreno is encouraging consumers who are may have purchased granny smith apples, gala apples, or caramel apples to contact their grocer and determine whether or not they were supplied by Bidart Bros.
The last time Bidart Bros. shipped granny smith apples to customers was Dec. 2, 2014 — but they may still be in circulation if the fruit was processed or frozen.
Moreno said that in many cases recalls are issued after enough time has passed so that many of the contaminated food items have already been consumed or thrown away, but the health department still circulates the information as processed or frozen foods tend to have a long shelf-life.
“A lot of times it’s been so long that most people don’t even have it anymore,” Moreno said. “Even if it’s been weeks, some of these processed foods can sit a while.”