Safeway Pulls Caramel Apples From Shelves

Read CDC Warning Here: Listeriosis

Multi-state Outbreak of Listeriosis Linked to
Commercially Produced, Prepackaged Caramel Apples

Caramel Apples Tainted with ListeriaU.S. consumers are being advised to avoid eating caramel apples that have been commercially produced. This recommendation follows an outbreak of listeriosis in several states across the U.S. that has been linked to commercial caramel apples. Now, Safeway has withdrawn from its shelves caramel apples in response to the latest warning issued by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), along with a few threats of lawsuits looming around the corner.

Listeriosis is a bacterial infection most commonly caused by Listeria monocytogenes. Listeriosis primarily causes infections of the central nervous system (meningitis, meningoencephalitis, brain abscess, cerebritis) and bacteremia in those with compromised immune system, pregnant women, and those at the extremes of age (newborns and the elderly). Healthy persons who have ingested a large quantity of the organism.

Listeria is ubiquitous in the environment and is primarily transmitted via the oral route after ingestion of contaminated food products, after which the organism penetrates the intestinal tract to cause systemic infections. The diagnosis of listeriosis requires the isolation of the organism from the blood and/or the cerebrospinal fluid. Treatment includes prolonged administration of antibiotics, primarily ampicillin and gentamicin, to which the organism is usually susceptible.

As of December 22, 2014, a total of 29 people infected with the outbreak strains of Listeria monocytogenes have been reported from 10 states: Arizona (4), California (1), Minnesota (4), Missouri (5), New Mexico (5), North Carolina (1), Texas (4), Utah (1), Washington (1), and Wisconsin (3). Illness onset dates range from October 17, 2014, to November 27, 2014. Nine illnesses have been associated with a pregnancy (occurred in a pregnant woman or her newborn infant). No miscarriages or fetal losses have been reported. Among people whose illnesses were not associated with a pregnancy, ages ranged from 7 to 92 years, with a median age of 66 years, and 41% were female. Three invasive illnesses (meningitis) occurred among otherwise healthy children aged 5–15 years. All 29 ill people have been hospitalized and, five deaths have been reported. Listeriosis contributed to three of these deaths and it is unclear whether it contributed to a fourth. The fifth death was unrelated to listeriosis.

More information is available at the Center for Disease Controls Website: Listeria