From Seattle Times staff reporter JoNel Aleccia:
A Missouri firm is recalling caramel apples produced from August through November after they were linked to an outbreak of listeria food poisoning that killed five people and sickened two dozen more in 10 states, including a teen boy in Washington.
The Happy Apple Company of Washington, Mo., issued a voluntary recall late Wednesday for products made from Aug. 25 to Nov. 23 and shipped to grocery stores, club stores and other retail chains in more than 30 states.
The caramel apples were sold in single packs, three-packs, four-packs and eight-packs and carried the best-by date on the front label.
Happy Apple brand caramel apples were the type linked to the death of an 81-year-old Felton, Calif., woman, Shirlee Jean Frey, Seattle food safety lawyer Bill Marler said Wednesday. A lawsuit filed by Marler earlier this week claims that Frey bought a caramel apple at a local Safeway store, ate it, and became so ill that she fell and hit her head. She was hospitalized and had surgery and died Dec. 2 with a listeria infection that health officials said matched the outbreak strain, the complaint stated.
Happy Apple officials said in a statement that there may be a connection between the listeria outbreak and apples from Bidart Brothers, one of the suppliers to Happy Apple’s California plant.
“We ceased our operations at the end of October as part of our normal, seasonal shut down and the caramel apples produced are no longer available in stores,” firm officials said in a statement.
The company said consumers should continue to follow advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to avoid eating any commercially produced prepackaged caramel apples. The treats could have a shelf life of a month or longer.
Listeria bacteria can cause life-threatening infections in young children, pregnant women, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.
Consumers who still have the product should return it to the store where purchased for a refund. Consumers can contact Happy Apple at 800-527-7532 Monday through Friday or email email@example.com.