Deadly Outbreak Linked to Candy Apples
You might want to think twice before biting into a candy apple this holiday season.
According to the CDC, candy apples are linked to 5 deaths and 30 illnesses across the country. The agency said that some prepackaged apples are contaminated with the bacteria listeria.
Although candy apples are most popular around Halloween, they still could be on store shelves. No specific brand has been linked to the outbreak.
In all, 28 people in 10 states were infected in October and November by the bacterium, which causes listeriosis, a life-threatening illness. The CDC is urging consumers not to eat "commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples" while it investigates the outbreak. No illnesses have been linked to uncoated apples or caramel candy, or to caramel apples that are not prepackaged, the agency said.
Listeria is ubiquitous in the environment and can live in food processing plants, even in cold temperatures, such as those in refrigerators. It is killed by cooking and pasteurization. It is also found in soil and water and in animals such as poultry and cattle, and can be present in raw milk or foods made from raw milk.
The CDC said nine of the illnesses across the nation occurred in pregnant women or newborns. The disease particularly affects older adults, pregnant women, newborns and people with weakened immune systems. Three people have come down with meningitis.
The other states where infections have been found are: Arizona (4), California (1), Missouri (5), New Mexico (5), North Carolina (1), Texas (4), Utah (1), Washington (1) and Wisconsin (2).
Listeria outbreaks are rare but dangerous. In 2011, listeria in cantaloupes killed 33 people and sickened 147 in 28 states, according to the CDC. In 2012, 22 people were infected and four died in an outbreak attributed to a brand of ricotta cheese imported from Italy, the agency said.
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