Bidart Bros. has issued a recall of all of its Granny Smith and Gala apples after the Food and Drug Administration found two strains of Listeria monocytogenes, a bacteria that causes listeriosis, at the company's processing plant in Bakersfield.
After swabbing surfaces at the plant, the FDA and California Department of Public Health found that several samples contained the bacteria, and determined that the plant was a supplier of the contaminated apples used to make the affected caramel apples.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the infection contributed to three deaths and 32 illnesses in 11 states.
Listeriosis can cause fever and muscle aches, gastrointestinal symptoms and in serious cases, death. It is treated with antibiotics.
In addition to California, illnesses were reported in Arizona, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin.
The affected apples were sold under the names Big Big and Granny's Best, but he company says they could also be sold under other brand names, or with no name. Consumers are being advised to ask stores if their Granny Smith or Gala apples came from Bidart Bros.
The company has sent letters to its distributors. It reported Dec. 2 as the last shipment date for the affected apples.
“The results are devastating to the Bidart family,” company President Leonard Bidart said in a statement. "As a family-owned grower operating in California since the 1930s, we place safety at the forefront of everything we do. Our hearts go out to all who have been impacted by the apple-related listeriosis outbreak."
Bidart Bros. also noted that in its last audit by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for food-safety and food-handling protocols in September of last year, the USDA certified that the company met criteria for good agricultural practices and good handling in the apple plant.
Bidart Bros. says it is reviewing its procedures.
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