As we previously reported, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration are continuing an investigation into a Listeria outbreak that has been tied to pre-packaged, commercially-produced caramel apples. Thus far, the CDC has linked the apples to 31 illnesses in 10 states, with 29 of those illnesses serious enough to require hospitalization. There have been four reported cases in Texas so far. Because of this, the CDC has advised the public to not eat pre-packaged caramel apples until they know more.
Because of this outbreak, several producers of these commercially produced caramel apples have ceased production and ordered a recall. The latest, Merb’s Candies, has issued a voluntary recall of two of their brands; Bionic Apples and Double Dipped Apples. These products were available at supermarkets in some areas of the Midwest, but they were also available online and via mail order nationwide. The potentially contaminated product was available between Sept. 8 and Nov. 25, 2014 (the company ceased production on Nov. 23) and came in a clear, burgundy and gold cellophane bag. The packaging did not contain an identifying lot code.
In addition to Merb’s, the company that supplied the apples used, Bidart Brothers, has also recalled the apples it supplied to a number of caramel apple manufacturers, just in case its apples were connected to the Listeria outbreak. This led to several other caramel apple manufacturers to also issue voluntary recalls, including Orosi, California-based Happy Apple, which recalled all caramel apples produced after Sept. 22, and California Snack Foods, which recalled all of their caramel apples with a best-use-by date between Aug. 15 and Nov. 28, 2014.
Listeria monocytogenes organism can cause serious and occasionally fatal infections in small children, the elderly or those with compromised immune systems. Listeriosis symptoms usually show up within the first 2-3 weeks, although they can often take as much as 70 days to appear. Otherwise healthy people often experience relatively mild symptoms such as headache, fever, body aches or stiffness for a short period of time, while others may experience nausea, abdominal pain or serious diarrhea. Listeriosis can occasionally lead to kidney disease, diabetes or even cancer, and in rare cases can lead to nervous system problems. Listeriosis can be especially dangerous for pregnant women, because of an increased risk of miscarriage or stillbirth, as well as the potential to pass the infection to her newborn, to whom it is fatal as much as 50% of the time.
Those who have purchased any commercially produced caramel apples recently are being urged to either throw it away or take it back to the store for a refund. If you or a loved one has become sick after eating a caramel apple or any other potentially contaminated food product, please contact the experienced and knowledgeable Texas Food Contamination Lawyers at Hill Law Firm as soon as possible, in order to protect your rights under the law.