The FDA, CDC and state and local officials are investigating an outbreak of listeriosis potentially linked to commercially-produced, prepackaged caramel apples.  Investigators are working to identify the source of contamination and to determine what products may be contaminated.

Image/CDC
Image/CDC

As of December 18, 2014, a total of 28 people infected with the outbreak strains of Listeria monocytogenes have been reported from 10 states. 26 ill people have been hospitalized. Among the 26 people hospitalized, five deaths have been reported. Listeriosis contributed to at least four of these deaths.

Nine illnesses were pregnancy-related (occurred in a pregnant woman or her newborn infant).

The 28 ill people included in this outbreak investigation have been reported from 10 states: Arizona (4), California (1), Minnesota (4), Missouri (5), New Mexico (5), North Carolina (1), Texas (4), Utah (1), Washington (1), and Wisconsin (2).

The CDC reports that 15 of the 18 ill people interviewed reported eating commercially-produced, prepackaged caramel apples.  No illnesses related to this outbreak have been linked to apples that are not caramel-coated and are not prepackaged and no illnesses have been linked to caramel candy.

Four people in Minnesota have become ill as part of this outbreak. All were adults ages 59 to 90 years. They became ill in late October and November. All were hospitalized and two died.

Minnesota cases purchased caramel apples from Cub Foods, Kwik Trip, and Mike’s Discount Foods, which carried Carnival brand and Kitchen Cravings brand caramel apples. These two brands are no longer available for purchase at retail locations.

Out of an abundance of caution, CDC recommends that U.S. consumers not eat any commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples, including plain caramel apples as well as those containing nuts, sprinkles, chocolate, or other toppings, until more specific guidance can be provided.