December 30, 2014 — Law360 reports that a wrongful death lawsuit has been filed against Safeway Inc. by the family of a woman who died of food poisoning after eating a caramel apple contaminated with Listeria.
The woman, 87 year-old Shirlee Frey, bought the pre-packaged caramel apples just before Halloween from a Safeway store in Felton, California. Over the next week, she started feeling sick and weak.
On November 6, she fell, hit her head, and needed surgery to treat bleeding in the brain. Frey seemed to improve over the next 10 days, but she did not wake up on November 27. On December 2, she was diagnosed with a Listeria infection and died the same day.
The lawsuit (PDF) was filed in the Superior Court of California in Santa Cruz.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), a total of 29 people in 10 states have been infected with the same strain of Listeria monocytogenes. Everyone who was infected has been hospitalized, five deaths have been reported, and nine illnesses occurred in pregnant women. Three invasive illnesses (meningitis) occurred in children aged 5-15 years.
The CDC and FDA now recommends that consumers should avoid commercially-produced, pre-packaged caramel apples until the source of the outbreak can be identified. Anyone who has recently eaten a caramel apple and has flu-like symptoms should seek emergency medical attention. Infection may occur up to 70 days after the contaminated food was eaten.
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