CDC is collaborating with public health officials in several states and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate an outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections (Listeriosis) linked to commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples.
The Minnesota Departments of Health and Agriculture first reported the outbreak in December. Four people in the state became ill between October and November. All four were hospitalized, and two died.
Since its first appearance in Minnesota, the outbreak has spread to include Wisconsin, North Carolina, Missouri, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, California and Washington. Twenty-eight people have been determined to be infected; 29 were hospitalized, and five died. According to CDC, Listeriosis contributed to at least three of the deaths.
Listeriosis is a serious infection caused by eating food contaminated with the Listeria monocytogenes. The disease affects primarily older adults, pregnant women, newborns and individuals with weakened immune systems.
The information CDC has at this time indicates commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples contaminated with Listeria may be causing this outbreak. Consequently, CDC recommends that consumers do not eat any plain caramel apples, as well as those containing nuts, sprinkles, chocolate or other toppings, until more specific guidance can be provided.
Investigators are working quickly to determine specific brands or types of commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples that may be linked to the illnesses and to identify the source of contamination.
Health officials say the investigation is evolving, and they are working with national partners to determine the scope of the products impacted. New information will be provided as it becomes available.