California Apple Plant Issues Recall After Tests Find Link To Deadly Listeria Contamination

Federal investigators have confirmed a connection between a California apple processing plant and a strain of listeria bacteria responsible for killing seven people and sickening more than 30 others, prompting the producer to recall an undetermined number of Gala and Granny Smith Apples from retailers.

Reuters reports that tests performed by Food and Drug Administration investigators on samples from the Bidart Bros. processing plant and apples the company supplied to retailers found a connection between the produce and two strains of Listeria monocytogenes responsible for the deadly listeria outbreak.

As a result, Bidart Bros. issued a voluntary recall of all shipments of Granny Smith and Gala apples sill available in the marketplace. The company says the last shipment was made on December 2.

“The results are devastating to the Bidart family,” Leonard Bidart, president Bidart Bros. says in a FDA notice. “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.”

The company advises that consumers should not eat the Granny Smith and Gala apples being recalled by Bidart Bros. Affected apples can be sold under the brand names “Big B” and “Granny’s Best,” but could also be sold under other brand names or with no brand at all.

Consumers who are buying or have recently bought Granny Smith or Gala apples should ask their retailers if the apples were supplied by Bidart Bros., the company says.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, seven people have died and 32 were sickened as a result of an outbreak of listeriosis infections.

The CDC reports that a majority of the people infected by listeria fell ill after eating packaged, caramel-coated apples.

Three companies – Happy Apples, California Snack Foods and Merb’s Candies – have each announced recalls of commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples since news of the contamination began in late December.

California apple plant linked to deadly listeria outbreak – FDA [Reuters]
Bidart Bros. Works with Federal and State Officials to Determine Source of Listeriosis-Associated Outbreak [FDA]