Happy Apples Company of Washington, Mo., is recalling its prepackaged caramel apples after the products were found to be the source of a listeria monocytogenes outbreak that sickened 29 and killed five in 10 states. All 29 people who were sickened were hospitalized, and nine of the illnesses occurred in pregnant women.
The recall comes about a week after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a warning to consumers not to eat prepackaged caramel apples as it investigated which commercially made brands were responsible for the outbreak. Though the apples are most popular around Halloween, the CDC warned that because of their sturdy shelf life the apples could stay on the market for a month or more.
The Happy Apple Brand caramel apples affected by the recall involve products with the “best use by” date between Aug. 25 and Nov. 23, 2014. The apples are sold in a single pack, three packs, four packs and eight packs, and each package has the “best use by” date on the front of the label. The caramel apples were available for retail sale through grocery, discount and club stores in the produce section and were distributed to 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, and Wisconsin.
Consumers are being told not to eat commercially-produced caramel apples or candy apples, including those with nuts, sprinkles, chocolate or other toppings until more information is available. Consumers are also advised to throw away any commercially produced, prepackaged apples they may have in their homes.
Anyone who experiences symptoms of listerosis after consuming packaged candy apples should seek medical attention. Symptoms of listerosis include fever and muscle aches, sometimes preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms.
Listerosis is especially dangerous for people in certain high-risk groups such as the elderly, people with weakened immune systems and chronic medical conditions such as cancer, pregnant women and newborn babies.
Health officials say that there is no need to avoid apples or other caramel products. The warning only applies to prepackaged caramel apples and candy apples.