Toss Out Your Caramel Apples

Listeria infections and hospitalizations possibly caused by caramel apples

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is taking action after a common holiday treat sickened several people in the US.

The CDC is working with public health officials after caramel apples were linked to an outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections this winter. The CDC says consumers should avoid eating packaged caramel apples, but homemade versions of the fall treat are A-OK to eat.

“I can see caramel apples sitting in your refrigerator for a long time,” Bill Marler, a Seattle food safety lawyer, told ABC News. “Listeria has evolved and it has evolved to grow really well at refrigerated temperatures.”

Patients in 10 states — Washington, California, Utah, Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, Missouri, Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Carolina — have been infected, the CDC reports. Twenty-eight people have been confirmed to have the infection, and five have died.

Now that the CDC has found that the apples may have caused the infections, it plans to track down the sources. According to ABC News, the Carnival and Kitchen Cravings brands of caramel apples may be tied to several of the infections. Other brands may also pose an infection risk.

Listeria infection, also known as listeriosis, is a food-borne illness that can cause headaches, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions. Pregnant women may have other symptoms, such as aches and feeling tired.

People can protect themselves from listeria strains by washing raw fruits and vegetables, scrubbing melons with a clean produce brush and cooking raw meat fully, the CDC notes.

Listeriosis is a serious condition that can be fatal if not treated. Patients who may have been exposed to the bacteria should see a doctor immediately.

Review Date: 
December 19, 2014
Last Updated:
January 5, 2015