Firm Recalls Caramel Apples Amid Listeria Fears

A Missouri firm is recalling its Happy Apple brand caramel apples because of the potential that they could be contaminated with listeria. The recall comes after at least three deaths and at least 29 illnesses in 10 states have been linked to an outbreak of the deadly bacteria.

Happy Apple Company, based in Washington, Missouri, released a statement Wednesday stating that one of the apple suppliers to its California facility reported that there may be a connection between the listeria outbreak and the applies supplied to that facility.

Happy Apple caramel apples are sold individually and in packs of three, four and eight apples. The recall involves apples with a best use by date between Aug. 25 and Nov. 23.

The apples were available through grocery, discount and club stores in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin.

The Food and Drug Administration is continuing to advise consumers not to eat pre-packed, commercially produced whole caramel apples.

“We ceased our operations at the end of October as part of our normal, seasonal shut down and the caramel apples produced are no longer available in stores, however, out of an abundance of caution and concern for consumer safety, we are recommending that consumers follow the advice of the CDC and remove any caramel apples you may have in storage and dispose of them in a secure container to avoid potential contamination in animals,” the company said in the statement.

The grocery chain Safeway pulled prepackaged caramel apples from its shelves after the family of an 81-year-old woman who died of listeria filed suit Monday. She had bought several caramel apples from a Safeway supermarket in Felton, California, in October, the suit claimed.

The FDA says five deaths have been reported, with listeriosis contributing to three of the deaths. It is unclear whether it contributed to a fourth, the agency said, while a fifth death was unrelated to listeriosis, the infection caused by the bacteria.

Listeriosis is usually caused when a person ingests listeria monocytogenes bacteria and it can cause particular harm among the elderly people, pregnant women or anyone with a compromised immune system. Symptoms can include gastrointestinal distress, fever and muscle aches.

In severe cases, people can develop encephalitis, swelling of the brain, or bacterial meningitis, inflammation of the membrane surrounding the brain and spinal cord.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.