Out of an abundance of caution, CDC recommends that U.S. consumers not eat any commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples, including plain caramel apples as well as those containing nuts, sprinkles, chocolate, or other toppings, until more specific guidance can be provided.
This warning comes as the CDC is investigating an outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections (listeriosis) linked to commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples. Listeria can cause a serious, life-threatening illness. There has been one case in Washington State.
A total of 28 people infected have been reported from 10 states and 26 of them have been hospitalized and five deaths reported. Listeriosis contributed to at least four of these deaths. 83% of those stricken and were interviewed by the CDC reported eating commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples before becoming ill.
The disease primarily affects pregnant women and their newborns, older adults, and people with immune systems weakened by cancer, cancer treatments, or other serious conditions (like diabetes, kidney failure, liver disease, and HIV). Rarely, people without these risk factors are affected.