On December 22, 2014, Marler Clark filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Safeway Inc, in the Superior Court of Santa Cruz on behalf of James Raymond Frey, 87, and the estate of his deceased wife, Shirlee Jean Frey, 81, who died tragically on December 2, 2014 after consuming a Listeria-tainted caramel apple purchased at the Safeway in Felton, California. The case number is CISCV180721. The complaint was amended on December 29, 2014 to add in two additional parties – Happy Apple and Bidart Brothers.
The CDC is collaborating with public health officials in several states and with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate an outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections (listeriosis) linked to commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples. Listeria can cause a serious, life-threatening illness.
People at higher risk for listeriosis include adults 65 years or older, people with weakened immune systems, and pregnant women.
On January 6, 2015, Bidart Bros. of Bakersfield, California voluntarily recalled Granny Smith and Gala apples because environmental testing revealed contamination with Listeria monocytogenes at the firm’s apple-packing facility.
On January 8, 2015, FDA laboratory analyses showed that these Listeria isolates were indistinguishable from outbreak strains by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE).
Listeria isolates from whole apples produced by Bidart Bros., collected along the distribution chain, were also indistinguishable from outbreak strains by PFGE.
Consumers should not eat any recalled Granny Smith and Gala apples produced by Bidart Bros., and retailers should not sell or serve them.
Consumers who are buying or have recently bought Granny Smith or Gala apples can ask their retailers if the apples came from Bidart Bros.
Consumers should not eat commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples that were recalled or made with Bidart Bros. apples, and retailers should not sell or serve them.
Happy Apples, California Snack Foods, and Merb’s Candies each announced a voluntary recall of commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples after hearing from Bidart Bros. that there may be a connection between Bidart Bros. apples and this listeriosis outbreak.
Consumers who are buying or have recently bought commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples can ask their retailers if the apples came from Bidart Bros.
Consumers who are unable to determine whether their commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples were made with Bidart Bros. apples should throw them away.
As of January 10, 2015, a total of 32 people infected with the outbreak strains of Listeria monocytogenes had been reported from 11 states.
Thirty-one ill people have been hospitalized, and seven deaths have been reported. Listeriosis contributed to at least three of these deaths.
Ten illnesses were pregnancy-related (occurred in a pregnant woman or her newborn infant), with one illness resulting in a fetal loss.
Three invasive illnesses (meningitis) were among otherwise healthy children aged 5–15 years.
To date, 25 (89%) of the 28 ill people interviewed reported eating commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples before becoming ill.
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has identified 2 cases of listeriosis in Canada with the same PFGE patterns as seen in the U.S. outbreak.
PHAC is working with its provincial and territorial partners to determine the source of these illnesses.