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Warnings from CDC and FDA: Do Not Eat Any Store-bought Caramel Apples until Exact Cause of 5 Deaths and 29 Serious Illnesses Can Be Determined

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have issued stern warnings to consumers regarding store-bought apples coated in caramel, chocolate, and other candied substances. Some companies have recalled their prepackaged caramel apples after reports of serious injuries and deaths which may have been caused or contributed to by consumers’ ingestion of caramel apples contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, according to the CDC and FDA.

carmel apple personal injurysThe FDA describes Listeria monocytogenes as an organism that can cause serious or fatal infections primarily in young children, frail or elderly people, pregnant women, or people with weakened immune systems. When the organism infects pregnant women, it may cause miscarriages or stillborn births. Others outside these more vulnerable groups may also be infected, however, and, according to some reports, approximately 20% of cases involving the overt form of the disease are fatal. As of December 27, 2014, 29 people across 10 states (Arizona, California, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin) were reported to have been infected with Listeriosis. All of those affected required hospitalization and 5 of those people have died. Nine of the illnesses were in pregnant women or newborn babies, and another 4 were in otherwise healthy children between the ages of 5 and 15. Three of the children between 5 and 15 were reported to have been infected with Listeria meningitis, an infection of the lining of the brain.

Though only a couple manufacturers have recalled their caramel-apple products, and though the recalled apples had sell-by dates that have already passed, the CDC is urging consumers to avoid eating any commercially produced caramel apples (i.e., regardless of manufacturer and sell-by date), including those with nuts, sprinkles, chocolate, or other toppings, until the cause of the illnesses and deaths can be identified. The Happy Apple Company of Washington, Missouri, has recalled all of its caramel apples sold with “best used by” dates between August 25, 2014, and November 23, 2014. In addition to the 10 states listed above, these apples were also sold in Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee. Retailers of these apples include, among others, WalMart, Sam’s Club, and Safeway.

On December 27, 2014, California Snack Foods issued a recall of all styles of the company’s “Karm’l Dapples” with “best used by” dates between August 15, 2014, and November 28, 2014. This brand of caramel apples was sold in grocery, discount, and club stores in Arizona, California, Nevada, Texas, and Utah. According to the recall notice, California Snack Foods has received notice from Bidart Brothers, one of the company’s apple suppliers (and the same company that supplied apples to the Happy Apple Company of Washington, Missouri) that the apples supplied by Bidart Brothers may be a source of the Listeriosis outbreak. Californian Snack Foods has joined the Happy Apple Company and the CDC, however, in warning consumers not to eat any store-bought caramel apples until the cause of the outbreak can be conclusively determined. Consumers are also advised to either return any uneaten caramel apples to their place of purchase or to dispose of them in secure containers to avoid the potential for contaminating animals that may find and eat the discarded apples. (In addition to the caramel apples produced by the two manufacturers who have issued recalls, Carnival brand and Kitchen Cravings brand caramel apples sold in Minnesota Cub Foods, Kwik Trip, and Mike’s Discount Foods were reported to have sickened consumers with Listeriosis.)

If you or one of your family members has already been sickened by a contaminated caramel apple or other food product, you need to seek immediate medical attention. You may also be entitled to compensation for your suffering and for your medical and other expenses. The Killino Firm’s team of injury and defective-products lawyers has extensive experience with all types of personal-injury cases, including those arising out of injuries and deaths caused by tainted or adulterated food or food products. Contact The Killino Firm for highly qualified assistance with your personal injury or wrongful-death case.

Legal Responsibility for Injuries and Deaths Caused by Tainted or Adulterated Food Products

Sellers, suppliers, and packagers of food products for consumption by human beings were among the first companies and individuals to be held strictly liable for injuries and deaths caused by tainted or otherwise unsafe food. Because consumers can so easily suffer injury or death from unsafe food, those in the business of selling food to the public are given a high level of responsibility under the law when such injuries or deaths occur. This duty of care for the safety of consumers is so high that these defendants can be held legally responsible for deaths and injuries caused by unsafe food even when the food has been rendered unsafe without negligence by any of the defendants. This is known as strict liability, which is justified in product-liability actions because food sellers and suppliers rather than injured consumers should be required to bear the responsibility of the damaging consequences of adulterated or tainted food ingestion.

Someone who has been sickened or has died from caramel apples tainted with Listeria monocytogenes, for instance, may be entitled to compensation from the apple supplier, the caramel and other ingredient suppliers, and from the manufacturer, packager, and seller of the caramel-apple product. Even if the source of the organism is determined to be the apples supplied by Bidart Brothers, for example, each of these parties may nevertheless be held strictly liable for injuries and deaths caused by consumers’ ingestion of the tainted product.

Obtain Legal Assistance from The Killino Firm, P.C.

The Killino Firm’s injury and products-liability attorneys are recognized throughout the country for their aggressive pursuit of justice from those responsible for personal injuries and wrongful deaths that could have been prevented. If you or one of your family members has been injured or killed as a result of unsafe food, another defective product, medical malpractice, or other negligence, The Killino Firm can help you obtain the compensation to which you and your family are entitled for your injuries or loved one’s death.

The Killino Firm's highly experienced and dedicated team of personal injury, defective products, and wrongful death lawyers and paralegals, headed by attorney Jeffrey Killino, represents clients throughout the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, area in a wide variety of personal injury and wrongful death matters.
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Date published: 07/23/2015
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