OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Health officials are warning consumers to avoid pre-packaged caramel apples. It’s because the apples have been linked to four deaths and more than two dozen illnesses in ten states.
Caramel apples are most popular around Halloween, and the outbreak started just before then. But the commercially produced variety can have a shelf life of a month or more, and some may still be on store shelves.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it knows of 28 cases in which people were sickened with the same strains of the bacterial illness listeria, and at least 26 were hospitalized. Of those, five died.
Listeriosis contributed to four of the deaths. A fifth person who died had a strain of listeria linked to the caramel apples, but health officials do not think listeriosis caused that person’s death.
A CDC official says the agency is still trying to determine which brands are involved and how the caramel apples may have become infected. The official says there’s no reason to stop eating plain apples or to avoid other caramel products.
Two of the deaths were in Minnesota. The others were in Texas and California.