Public Health Advisory Regarding Commercially Produced and Prepackaged Caramel Apples

For Immediate Release
December 23, 2014; 8:35 am
DPHSS Release No. 2014-093
The Department of Public Health and Social Services (DPHSS), in partnership with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), would like to advise the public to not consume any commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples, including plain caramel apples, and those with nuts, sprinkles, chocolate, or other toppings. This advisory is issued out of an abundance of caution due to an on-going outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections (listeriosis) linked to these food products in the states.
Listeria can cause a serious, life-threatening illness. Common food vehicles are unpasteurized milk, soft cheeses made with unpasteurized milk, deli meats, hot dogs, raw vegetables, raw meats, poultry and fish. Symptoms of listeriosis include the following: fever, muscle aches, nausea or diarrhea; pregnant women may have mild flu-like symptoms and infection can lead to premature delivery or stillbirth; and the elderly or immunocompromised individuals may develop bacteremia or meningitis.
Although caramel apples are often a fall seasonal product, contaminated commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples may still be for sale at grocery stores and other retailers nationwide, or may be in consumers’ homes. No illnesses related to this outbreak have been linked to apples that are not caramel-coated and not prepackaged or to caramel candy.
As of December 18, 2014, there are 28 cases involving ten states, five deaths, and 26 hospitalizations with five deaths, attributed to this outbreak. Listeriosis contributed to four of those deaths. CDC investigators are working quickly to determine which specific brands or types of commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples may be linked to illnesses and to identify the cause of contamination.
CDC is working closely with state health officials and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on this rapidly evolving investigation. DPHSS will inform the public of new information as it becomes available.
For any questions, please contact Ms. Jeannie Dizon, Environmental Public Health Officer, of the Division of Environmental Health at 735-7221.

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