January 12, 2015 — The FDA has reported that two strains of Listeria collected inside an apple processing plant are believed to be the same strains associated with a food poisoning outbreak blamed on commercially-produced caramel apples.
The processing plant, Bidart Brothers, is a family-owned grower based in Bakersfield, California that has been operating in the state since the 1930s. The president of the company called the test results “devastating” and said “Our hearts go out to all who have been impacted by the apple-related listeriosis outbreak.”
Listeria was found on surfaces in the plant that were likely to come in contact with apples. The FDA confirmed that the strain of Listeria monocytogenes in the plant match the strain that made people sick.
Last week, the company issued a recall for Granny Smith and Gala apples sold under the brand names “Big B” and “Granny’s Best.” Those apples were last shipped on December 2 from a facility in Shafter, California.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has reported that 25 out of 32 people who were sickened reported eating commercially produced, pre-packaged caramel apples. Of the seven deaths reported, listeriosis contributed to at least three deaths.
Three manufacturers of caramel apples issued recalls after receiving notices from Bidart Brothers: Happy Apple Co. of Washington, Missouri; California Snack Foods, of El Monte, California; and Merb’s Candies of St. Louis, Missouri.
The FDA recommends:
“Consumers should avoid eating commercially produced, prepackaged whole caramel apples including those various brands and types containing nuts, sprinkles, chocolate & other toppings that were manufactured using Bidart Bros. apples.”
If you have recently purchased pre-packaged caramel apples, ask the retailer if they were manufactured using apples from Bidart Brothers.
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