Two Minnesotans Die from Listeria Outbreak in Caramel Apples

  • HOME
  • |
  • News & Updates

Two Minnesotans Die from Listeria Outbreak in Caramel Apples

The holidays bring with them a bevy of sweet treats. But what happens when that sweet tooth comes with a side of deadly bacteria? This is what the CDC is trying to find out in its ongoing investigation into a Listeria outbreak that has left five dead, two right here in Minnesota, and more than two dozen others ill across the country.

A POISONED APPLE

Witnesses and reports from those who fell ill point to commercially produced caramel apples that were purchased and consumed a couple weeks prior to Halloween. Of the two deaths here in Minnesota, health officials state that the tainted caramel apples were Carnival brand and Kitchen Cravings brand purchased from Cub Foods, Kwik Trip, and Mike’s Discount Foods. Though these brands have been pulled from store shelves, they note that other brands and store locations may be impacted as the investigation continues.
The three other deaths were located in Texas and California, with illnesses being reported in Arizona, California, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin.
The CDC reports that there have been 28 cases so far reported in which people were sickened with the same strains of Listeriosis bacteria – at least 26 of whom were hospitalized, five of whom died.
WHAT IS LISTERIA?
Listeria is a common foodborne illness, especially dangerous to pregnant women, newborn babies, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems. In a healthy individual, listeria can cause fever, nausea, muscle aches, and diarrhea and can be treated with antibiotics, only rarely causing serious illness.
Listeria in those populations most at risk can be devastating because it can be so serious for them, with Listeria outbreaks generally causing more deaths in those populations than other pathogens like salmonella or E. coli.
The last reported illness due to the compromised apples was November 27th, though numbers for December have not yet been reported. Nine of those affected involved pregnant woman or an infant and the oldest known victim was reported to be 92.
Listeria can be particularly dangerous for pregnant women, who can pass the illness to their unborn child leading to illness for the child or worse, miscarriage, preterm delivery or stillbirth. To date, no miscarriages or fetal losses have been reported with this outbreak.
Listeria can be particularly dangerous for pregnant women, who can pass the illness to their unborn child leading to illness for the child or worse, miscarriage, preterm delivery or stillbirth. To date, no miscarriages or fetal losses have been reported with this outbreak.
HOW DID LISTERIA GET ON CARAMEL APPLES?
Most likely the apples were contaminated with Listeria bacteria during their washing process. Improperly sanitized equipment or contaminated water used for cleaning the apples would then propagate Listeria. Once the bacteria is there, adding warm caramel would only allow the bacteria a warm, wet environment in which to multiply, creating a perfect storm of foodborne illness for unsuspecting children.
COMPLICATIONS
Curiously, in three older children who were exposed to the poisoned apples, meningitis infections developed. Though these three children were not among those who died, the CDC is particularly concerned, stating that it is unusual to see such an infection in “healthy, older children.” The CDC is unsure if these children were affected so significantly due to their age or because the contamination was so heavy.
A WARNING
The CDC is advising anyone with commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples at home to throw them away. Making sure to wrap them well so that animals and/or people who happen upon them do not eat them.
APPLE OUTBREAK
Though the CDC has not yet drawn a correlation between the two, there has been a similar problem this year with recalled apple products from Del Monte,also contaminated with Listeria. Some 3,051 consumer packages containing fresh cut Gala apples, distributed to Giant Eagle, Amazon Fresh, Sunoco, Peter’s Fruit, Wegmans, Sheetz and 7-Eleven, voluntarily recalled as of 12/9/2014.\
All food poisoning is preventable with proper sanitation and safety precautions. That’s why, when someone is killed by foodborne illness, like Listeria-tainted apples, the family has a right to file a wrongful death claim. If you or a loved one have been affected by these caramel apples or suspect a foodborne illness, contact the experienced attorneys here at Meshbesher & Spence at 1-888-728-9866.
BACK TO NEWS & UPDATES