A listeria outbreak due to the consumption of tainted caramel apples has caused sickness and death in at least nine states.
A wrongful death lawsuit was filed on December 22, 2014, on behalf of the family of Shirlee Frey against the Happy Apple Company. According to the wrongful death lawsuit complaint, in late October 2014, Shirlee Frey went to a Safeway store in Felton, California, and purchased a prepackaged caramel apple. After consuming the caramel apple, Shirlee started to feel ill. On December 2, 2014, Frey’s family was informed that Shirlee was suffering from listeriosis, or a listeria infection.
Shirlee Frey died on that same day.
As of now, there are 29 laboratory-confirmed cases — including Shirlee Frey — of listeriosis linked to the consumption of caramel apples.
Listeria is a type of bacteria infection that can be very serious for humans, with the overt form of the disease being fatal in over 20 percent of cases. The disease is most dangerous to pregnant women, newborns, adults with weakened immune systems, and the elderly. Symptoms of infection can include headaches, stiffened neck muscles, confusion, loss of balance, violent convulsions, and fever.
The 29 cases of confirmed caramel apple Listeria have occurred in states all across the country, including Arizona (4), California (1), Minnesota (4), Missouri (5), New Mexico (5), North Carolina (1), Texas (4), Utah (1), Washington (1), and Wisconsin (3).
The first confirmed cases linked to the caramel apples emerged out of Minnesota. Four sick Minnesotans purchased caramel apples at Cub Foods, Kwik Trip convenience stores, and Mike’s Discount Foods, which carried Carnival brand and Kitchen Cravings brand caramel apples. All 29 people in the 10 above-listed states were hospitalized.
So far, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a total of five people have died from the caramel apple Listeria outbreak, nine of the infections were pregnancy-related (those being pregnant women or newborn babies), and three children between the ages of 5 and 15 suffered from listeria meningitis, which is an infection of the lining of the brain.
All of this has led to a Caramel Apple recall initiated on Christmas Eve by The Happy Apple Company. The Happy Apple Company apples are sold in single packs, 3 packs, 4 packs and 8 packs. Each caramel apple package will have a “best use by” date on the front of the label.
The caramel apples were available through grocery, convenience, discount and club stores, were generally offered in the produce departments, and were distributed to retailers in the following states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin.
The list of retailers that the Happy Apple caramel apples were distributed to included — but were not limited to — Walmart, Sam’s Club, and Safeway.
Attorney’s for Shirlee Frey’s family have sued Safeway, Inc. for an undisclosed amount in response to Shirlee’s caramel apple-related Listeria death.
[Image via Fierce Foodie]