Health and food safety officials have newly identified the 16 brands of Minnesota-produced caramel apples that acquired their fruit from a California company whose apples sickened dozens of people and killed at least three, two of them in Minnesota.
An advisory issued Friday by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture is part of a larger recall of Granny Smith and Gala apples from Bidart Brothers Apple Packing of Shafter, Calif. The apples were recalled because they were suspected of being contaminated with listeria monocytogenes.
There have been 32 illnesses identified as a part of a national outbreak of listeriosis since the fall. Four people in Minnesota became ill in October and November, and two of them died. All were ages 59 to 90. They became ill in late October and November.
The 16 brands are no longer available in Minnesota stores, but consumers are being urged to dispose of any of the apples they may have. The recall involves Granny Smith and Gala apples. Bidart Brothers said they were last shipped on Dec. 2.
The brands are: Aamodt's, Abdallah, Angeli Foods, Candy Jar, Carnival, Celebration, Circle K, Finnottes, Grandma Bev's, Jerry's Foods, Karamel King, Kowalski's Markets, Kitchen Cravings, Lunds & Byerly's, Supermom's, and Wescott.
These brands were also sold in North Dakota, Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan. In addition to caramel, the apples may be covered with toppings such as nuts and chocolate.
Deaths and illnesses in 11 states have been reported: Arizona, California, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin.
The FDA and the California Department of Public Health inspected the facility and found listeria on surfaces in the plant that were likely to come into contact with apples, and on Saturday the FDA confirmed that the DNA patterns of the listeria in the plant and the listeria that made people sick matched.
The agencies also found the same strains in whole apples that Bidart Bros. shipped to other companies along the distribution chain.
It is unclear how many deaths are directly linked to the outbreak. Seven people who contracted the strains of listeriosis died, the CDC said in an update posted Saturday. The agency said that listeriosis is known to have contributed to at least three of the deaths.
Listeriosis is a foodborne illness that is especially dangerous to pregnant women, newborn babies, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems. It rarely causes serious illness in healthy people and can be treated with antibiotics. Symptoms include fever, muscle aches, nausea and diarrhea.
Listeria can live in food processing plants, even in cold temperatures, such as those in refrigerators, but is killed by cooking and pasteurization. It is also found in soil and water and in animals such as poultry and cattle.