Packaged caramel apples have been linked to five deaths and 26 illnesses in multiple states, including California, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement Friday.
The caramel apples are believed to be linked to an outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes, a bacteria that causes listeriosis. The infection 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 CDC is working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to investigate the outbreak, and has found that listeriosis contributed to at least four of the five deaths.
The CDC does not yet know the source of the contamination or the types of commercially produced prepackaged caramel apples involved.
A specific recall has not been issued, but the CDC is recommending U.S. consumers refrain from eating any commercially produced packaged caramel apples, including those that contain nuts, sprinkles, chocolate or any other toppings, until the source of the contamination is found.
Of the 26 illnesses that have been reported, nine illnesses were pregnancy-related, and three were among otherwise healthy children aged 5 to 15 years. According to the CDC, 83% of the ill people interviewed reported eating commercially produced prepackaged caramel apples.
Those affected became ill between Oct. 17 and Nov. 27.