Caramel Apples: Warning - Illnesses, Including Deaths, Linked to Listeria Monocytogenes Contamination

UPDATED 01/06/2015. Added press release. Happy Apple Company expands Recall of caramel apples to include Kroger brand caramel apples.

UPDATED 12/29/2014. Added press release of California Snack Foods, recalling Karm’l Dapples/All Styles.

[Posted 12/25/2014]

AUDIENCE: Emergency Medicine, Primary Care, Consumer

ISSUE: FDA is notifying healthcare professionals and their medical care organizations of the ongoing investigation of an outbreak of listeriosis linked to commercially-produced, prepackaged caramel apples.

The CDC reports that 29 people in 10 states have been reported as being infected with the outbreak strains of Listeria monocytogenes, with all 29 ill people hospitalized and five deaths reported. Nine illnesses were pregnancy-related. 

Listeriosis can be fatal, especially in certain high-risk groups. 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.

BACKGROUND: Happy Apple Company of Washington, Missouri, issued a recall of Happy Apple Brand caramel apples with a best use by date between August 25th and November 23rd 2014, because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. 

Happy Apple caramel apples are sold in single pack, three packs, four packs and eight 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: 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, Wisconsin.

RECOMMENDATIONS: Health professionals should 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.

See the FDA Outbreak Notice for additional recommendations for consumers and retailers. FDA is working to identify the source of contamination and to determine what products may be contaminated. New information will be provided as it becomes available.

[12/31/2014 - Press Release - Happy Apples]
[12/27/2014 - Press Release - California Snack Foods]
[12/25/2014 - Outbreak Notice - FDA]
[12/24/2014 - Press Release - Happy Apples]
[12/22/2014 - Outbreak Notice - CDC]

Page Last Updated: 01/06/2015
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