Apple Commission Joins Listeria Outbreak Investigation in Caramel Apples

California Victim Represents the First Wrongful Death Suit in this Listeria Outbreak

 

By Laurie Greene, CalAgToday reporter and editor

On December 19, 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that it is collaborating with several states and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in an investigation of the outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infection (listeriosis) in commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples.
The first wrongful death lawsuit was filed in California by James Raymond Frey on behalf of his late wife, Shirlee Jean Frey, 81, against Safeway Inc. over the commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples, implicated in a 10-state Listeria outbreak responsible for a total of 29 people (as of yesterday) who have been hospitalized, including five deaths.
Though the product in question was linked to Carnival brand and Kitchen Cravings brand caramel apples, specifically, CDC is warning the public not to eat caramel apples–plain or with nuts or other toppings, but clarified, “at this time, no illnesses related to this outbreak have been linked to apples that are not caramel-coated and not prepackaged or to caramel candy.” Safeway removed the product from it shelves.
The investigation is still working to determine specific brands or types of commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples that may be linked to the illnesses.
Listeria is one of the more deadly food pathogens. The most recent Listeria outbreak occurred three years ago from Colorado-grown contaminated cantaloupes, causing three dozen deaths. The pathogen  affects primarily women, newborns, older adults and other people with compromised immune systems. Symptoms include fever, muscle aches and gastrointestinal problems.
The California Apple Commission is working with other apple producing states and the U.S. Apple Association on this issue.  Should California apple growers receive any calls regarding this issue or need additional information, please contact Alexander Ott, Executive Director the Commission office in Fresno by email at calapple@calapple.org or phone 1-559-225-3000.
Photo source: CDC

Wawona Packing Co. Takes Precautionary Step of Voluntarily Recalling Products

Wawona Packing Company of Cutler, Calif. is voluntarily recalling certain lots of whole peaches (white and yellow), nectarines (white and yellow), plums and plots packed between June 1, 2014 through July 12, 2014 due to the potential of the products being contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

Wawona Packing has notified retailers of the specific lots being recalled. No other products are impacted by this recall. To our knowledge health officials have not linked any illnesses to this recall.

Listeria monocytogenes, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and other with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only from short0term symptoms such as high fever, sever headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

The recalled products were shipped directly to retailers and wholesalers who resell the products. Because we do not know the locations of the companies that purchased the products from our direct customers, the company is issuing a nationwide recall. Consumers can identify the recalled products by the information on www.wawonapacking.com.

Anyone who has the recalled products in their possession should not consume them and should discard them. Consumers with questions may contact Wawona Packing at 1-888-232-9912, M-F, 8am – 11pm ET, or visit www.wawonapacking.com for a copy of this press release.

Wawona Packing has already notified its business customers and requested that they remove the recalled products from commerce. Wawona Packing is voluntarily recalling these products in consultation with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The recall was initiated based on internal company testing. The company shut down the implicated packing lines, retrofitted equipment, sanitized the facility and retested. Subsequent daily test results have been negative.

“We are aware of no illnesses related to the consumption of these products,” said Brent Smittcamp, President of Wawona Packing Co. “By taking the precautionary step of recalling product, we will minimize even the slightest risk to public health, and that is our priority.”