The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and prevention (CDC), along with numerous state and county health agencies, including the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), continue to investigate the 11-State outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes that was caused by the consumption of commercially produced and prepackaged caramel apples that were manufactured with Bidart Brothers Granny Smith and Gala apples. Listeria is a dangerous bacterium that can cause listeriosis, a serious, life-threatening illness that in this outbreak has been linked to as many as eight deaths and one still-birth.
According to information released by the FDA and CDC, interviews were held with as many of the victims as were able to participate. The interviews indicated a pattern of consumption that revealed a high likelihood that caramel apples were the source of the listeriosis outbreak. As of January 10th, 25 (89%) of the 28 victims who participated in the interviews listed caramel apples as a food consumed in the weeks preceding their illness. These were all commercially produced caramel apple products. Also of interest, the other three victims reported eating whole green apples in that same time-period, and though as of now the origin of those apples has not been confirmed, there is a strong likelihood they originated from the same producer as the apples used in making the caramel apples.
Key Dates and Findings:
1. On Dec. 24, 2014, Happy Apple Company of Washington, Mo was compelled to recall all of its caramel covered apples with a best – by date from Aug. 25 to Nov. 23, 2014.
2. On Dec. 27, 2014, California Snack Foods joined Happy Apple in recalling caramel apples, brand name Karm’l Dapple, with a best – by date from Aug. 15 to Nov. 28, 2014.
3. On Dec. 29, 2014, Merb’s Candies of St. Louis, Missouri joined Happy Apple and California Snack Foods in recalling their caramel apples, brand names Candies Bionic Apples and Double Dipped Apples, with a best – by date from Sept. 8 to Nov. 25, 2014.
4. On Dec. 31, 2014, Happy Apple Company expanded the recall to include the Kroger brand caramel it produced with a best – by date from Sept. 15 to Nov. 18, 2014.
5. Then, on Jan. 6, Bidart Bros. announced a major recall of Granny Smith and Gala apples. This recall followed a major inspection of the Bidart facility in Shafter, California. The swabs and samples taken from the facility tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes, leading to the recall of all apples shipped from that facility in 2014.
6. On Jan. 8, the FDA laboratory confirmed that the Listeria found at the Bidart, Shafter facility, were a genetic match to the outbreak strains (the FDA laboratory used pulsed-field gel electrophoresis to establish a DNA match of the Listeria samples at the facility to match the Listeria taken from victims).
7. These findings were then confirmed by Listeria isolates taken at random places in the chain of commerce of the whole apples produced by Bidart Bros.
Investigators are continuing to work to determine if any other brands or types of commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples are linked to illnesses and to determine the source of contamination.
Bidart Bros. Granny Smiths and Galas can be sold under the brand names “Big B” and “Granny’s Best,” but they could also be sold with no brand at all.
On January 13, 2015, Caramel Apple Listeria Lawyer Ron Simon filed a lawsuit on behalf of a very seriously injured California woman, hospitalized for more than a month, after she ate a caramel covered apple produced by Happy Apple and sold at Costco.
If you or a loved one need to speak to a Caramel Apple Listeria Lawyer, feel free to call the offices of Ron Simon & Associates at 1-888-335-4901.