Consumers advised not to eat certain apples and pre-packaged caramel apples due to foodborne illness outbreak
Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary W. Black is alerting Georgians to the recall of certain apples and pre-packaged caramel apples sold in Georgia for potential health risk due to possible product contamination with Listeria monocytogenes. Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA) inspectors will be checking retail stores and warehouses to make sure the recalled products have been removed from sale.
As of Tuesday, Jan. 8, 32 people infected with outbreak strains of Listeria monocytogenes have been reported in 11 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). To date, no illnesses have been reported in Georgia.
The majority of ill people interviewed by health officials reported eating commercially-produced, prepackaged whole caramel apples. Caramel apple brands named in interviews include Happy Apple, Carnival and Merb’s Candies. However, the investigation continues and other brands may be identified.
Current products under recall impacting Georgia include:
—Happy Apple Brand caramel apples sold in grocery, discount and club stores, generally in the produce section. The product comes in single, three-, four- and eight-packs. Each pack has a “best use by date” of Aug. 25 through Nov. 23, 2014 on the front of the label.
—Merb’s Candies brand Bionic Apples and Double Dipped Apples sold through mail orders nationwide. The product is individually packaged in a clear, burgundy and gold cellophane bag and was available for purchase Sept. 8 through Nov. 25, 2014 (no additional identifying lot codes were used).
—Bidart Brothers Gala or Granny Smith apples. The apples can be sold under brand names “Big B,” “Granny’s Best,” other brand names or no brand at all. Consumers who are buying, or have recently purchased, Granny Smith or Gala apples should ask their retailer(s) if the apples were supplied by Bidart Brothers.
Other varieties of apples and apples from other growers are not affected by the recall.
Listeria is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.
While the caramel apples produced are no longer available for sale, they may still remain in consumer homes. Consumers are encouraged to follow the advice of the CDC and throw away the products in a secure manner, which will help avoid the potential spread of contamination to animals.
Consumers who have any product may return it to the store where purchased or throw it away, per the advice of the CDC. More information is available online at www.fda.gov/Food/RecallsOutbreaksEmergencies/Outbreaks/ucm427573.htm and www.cdc.gov/listeria/outbreaks/caramel-apples-12-14/index.html.