Health officials are warning consumers to avoid prepackaged caramel apples because they are linked to four deaths and more than two dozen illnesses in several 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 CDC knows of 28 cases in which people were sickened with the same strains of the bacterial illness listeria, and at least 26 were hospitalized.
The agency said that 83% of the ill people interviewed reported eating commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples. The agency is still trying to determine which brands are involved—two known ones are Carnival and Kitchen Cravings—and how the apples may have become infected. The deaths occurred in Minnesota, Texas, and California. Illnesses showed up in Arizona, California, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Texas, Utah, Washington state, and Wisconsin. (Read more listeria stories.)