Happy Apple Recall Issued Over Listeria Poisonings, Deaths

Investigators believe that Happy Apple brand name caramel apple products may be the cause of a multi-state Listeria outbreak, which has sickened at least 29 people and killed 5 others in 10 different states. 

The FDA announced the Happy Apple caramel apple recall on December 25, after learning the Missouri-based company received listeria tainted apples from its California-based supplier. The recall comes after federal health officials issued a caramel apple food poisoning warning last week.

Happy Apple recently received notice from its apple supplier, Orosi, California-based Bidart Brothers, that some of the apples it received may have been contaminated with listeria. The company then told the FDA and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), who then determined that the same strain of listeria found in Bidart apples was also being found in patients falling ill after eating caramel apples in at least 10 states.

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The Bidart Brothers Company has issued a recall and has been contacting all know companies where potentially infected apples were sold.

According to the FDA, the tainted caramel, chocolate, and nut covered apples were mainly sold under the Happy Apple brand name, with best use dates ranging from August 25 to November 23, 2014. The FDA announced the products are no longer available on stores shelves as the life-span has maxed out, but consumers and retailers are encouraged to check their remaining inventory and dispose of them immediately.

The Happy Apple caramel apples were sold in single packs, three packs, four packs and eight packs containing a best used by date on the front of the label. The products were available for purchase through grocery, discount and club stores in 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, Wisconsin.

The recall comes after at least one wrongful death lawsuit stemming from the listeria-tainted apples has already been filed in California. James Raymond Frey, the husband of 81 year old Shirlee Jean Frey, indicated in a complaint filed late last week in the Superior Court of Santa Cruz, that his wife died after consuming a caramel apple purchased at a Safeway. The lawsuit names Safeway Inc. as a defendant and alleges that the company was negligent and breached duties owed to the plaintiffs resulting in the death of Shirlee Jean Frey.

About 2,500 cases of Listeriosis are reported in the United States every year, according to federal health officials, with about 500 cases typically result in death each year. Pregnant women are 20 times more likely and AIDS patients are 300 times more likely to be affected than healthy adults. Listeriosis can cause the death of unborn children when contracted by expecting mothers.

Blood tests are usually required to diagnose listeriosis, which can be treated with antibiotics. Symptoms of listeriosis include muscle aches, abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, severe headaches and fever. If the bacteria spreads from the intestines to the bloodstream and nervous system, it could cause meningitis and other complications.


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