As a precaution, The Kroger Co. said Thursday it will no longer sell unrefrigerated caramel apples that have been pierced with dipping sticks because of food safety risks associated with the products.

The company said it made the decision after reviewing a recent scientific study published by the American Society of Microbiology that reveals these products may be at risk for listeriosis if left unrefrigerated.

"After reviewing the study, we have decided to voluntarily withdraw unrefrigerated caramel apples from our stores," said Payton Pruett, Kroger's vice president of food safety. "While we believe the potential health risk is minimal, we are acting out of an abundance of caution on behalf of our customers."

Kroger says no illnesses have been reported in connection with these products. All Kroger stores have pulled the products from shelves and distribution centers and disposed of them.

The company said it is open to carrying these products again in the future and will work with suppliers to reduce the risk of bacterial growth.