“Out of an abundance of caution, the CDC recommends that US consumers do 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,”
the CDC said in a statement released this week. Adding that anyone who still has some at home should throw them out, as listeria can still grow in refrigerated environments and can have an incubation period of up to 70 days. They also said to be sure to wrap them well when throwing them out so animals can’t eat them.
According to officials, since October, 28 people in different states have fallen ill due to eating prepackaged, commercially produced caramel apples. Five of those that fell ill later died.
So far, people in the states of Texas, California, Arizona, Missouri, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Carolina, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin have been affected. Officials at the CDC say sickness and death are caused by listeria, a type of bacteria that has apparently made its way into the products this season. Investigation is still ongoing to find the specific brand responsible and how the bacteria got into the products.
Listeria is especially dangerous for those who are pregnant, elderly or have comprised immune systems. However, perfectly healthy teens and adults have been severely affected by this outbreak as well. Symptoms include fever, nausea, diarrhea and muscle aches and can cause encephalitis (swelling of the brain) as well as bacterial meningitis (inflammation of the membrane surrounding the brain and spinal cord).
If you experience any of these symptoms and have eaten prepackaged, commercially produced caramel apples this season, see a doctor immediately.