CALIFORNIA—The Center for Disease Control, in collaboration with state health officials and the US Food and Drug Administration, is investigating an outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes (listeriosis), which has sickened 32 people, hospitalized 31 and killed seven.
The disease is determined to have been spread by Granny Smith apples produced by Bidart Brothers of Bakersfield, who have recalled all of their Caramel coated Granny Smith and Gala apples.
According to an FDA statement, “…two strains of Listeria monocytogenes were found at the apple processing facility and are believed to be the same strains associated with the outbreak. Those same strains were also found in Bidart Bros. apples collected from a retailer by the FDA. Today, the CDC confirmed that the majority of the persons made ill reported consuming caramel-coated apples.”
In response to those reports, Leonard Bidart, President of Bidart Bros. said, “The results are devastating to the Bidart family.” He asserted though, “As a family-owned grower operating in California since the 1930s, we place safety at the forefront of everything we do. Our hearts go out to all who have been impacted by the apple-related listeriosis outbreak.”
Bidart Bros. has also instituted a recall of all its Granny Smith and Gala apples, which may still be available in supermarkets. Additionally, the family company has said that it is contacting their retailers and assisting them in the safe return of the contaminated apples.
According to the statement, “Bidart Bros. last shipped Granny Smith apples to customers on December 2, 2014.”
The CDC warns: “Consumers should not eat the Granny Smith and Gala apples being recalled by Bidart Bros. These apples can be sold under the brand names ‘Big B’ and ‘Granny’s Best,’ though, they could also be sold under other brand names or with no brand at all. Consumers who are buying or have recently bought Granny Smith or Gala apples should ask their retailers if the apples were supplied by Bidart Bros. Other varieties of apples and apples from other growers are not affected by the recall.”
“Consumers should avoid eating commercially produced, prepackaged whole caramel apples including those various brands and types containing nuts, sprinkles, chocolate & other toppings that were manufactured using Bidart Bros. apples. Consumers who are buying or have recently bought caramel apples should ask their retailer if the caramel apples were manufactured using recalled apples.”
Recommendations for preventing listeriosis are available at the CDC Listeria website: http://www.cdc.gov/listeria/prevention.html.