Merb’s Candies announces voluntary recall of caramel apples due to possible contamination with Listeria monocytogenes

Merb’s Candies, is issuing a voluntary recall of the Merb’s Candies brand Bionic Apples and Double Dipped Apples because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

merbs.candy.apples.dec.14Bionic Apples and Double Dipped Apples were available for retail sales at St. Louis area locations, through local supermarkets (located in the produce section) and through mail orders nationwide. The product is individually packaged in a clear, burgundy and gold cellophane bag and would have been available from September 8th through November 25th 2014 – no identifying lot codes were used.

Merb’s Candies has been working with the Food and Drug Administration in their investigation of the current outbreak of Listeriosis, which has been associated with caramel apples. Bidart Brothers, who is one of Merb’s Candies apple suppliers, has initiated a recall as there may be a connection between this outbreak of Listeria Monocytogenes and apples they supplied Merb’s Candies.

As has been reported in the news, the Center for Disease Control has noted 30 illnesses in 10 states linked to the outbreak and they have advised consumers not to eat commercially produced, pre-packaged caramel apples until more is known.

Production of Merb’s Candies caramel apples has ceased- as of November 23rd 2014 – and the caramel apples produced are no longer available for purchase. However, out of an abundance of caution and consumer safety concerns, we recommend that any consumers that are still in possession of caramel apples follow the advice of the CDC and dispose of the product in a secure container to avoid potential contamination to animals.

Natural does not mean safe: Kansas locals still pushing unpasteurized cider

Oh, unpasteurized apple cider, when will you stop providing food safety moments?

It was 13 years ago last night that U.S. health investigators figured out that unpasteurized juice with apple cider as a base was making people sick with E. coli O157:H7 in the Pacific Northwest region.

On Friday, Amy made a stop at a local plant and produce shop to pick up a pumpkin.

Amy writes:

The woman behind the counter quipped, “It looks like you already have a little pumpkin” motioning towards Sorenne who was hanging off my hip.

As I was paying the woman asked me, “Did you get a chance to have a swig of our apple cider?”

There was a tray with about 10 dixie cups full of cider on the counter. I had looked at them with interest while waiting to pay. I used to love apple cider but Doug has taught me to be skeptical. I asked without thinking, “Is the juice pasteurized?”

The woman looked at me as if to say, of course not, but she said, “No, but there is a preservative in it,” sort of apologetically for the preservative not being natural.

“No thanks then, and especially not for my daughter.” “Oh no!” she replied. “I didn’t mean for her but for you.” I left it at that. I was in a hurry, the woman was helping me to the car with the pumpkin, and maybe she just didn’t know better.

In my mind I was screaming, “Lady, I don’t want to die from your juice either.” I called Doug to thank him for teaching me about food safety. Four years ago I would have unthinkingly and gladly drank the cider. And if I had a child, I would have also offered it to her, not knowing about E. coli or even questioning whether someone in a store would serve me unsafe food.

From the cider files:

In October, 1996, 16-month-old Anna Gimmestad of Denver drank Smoothie juice manufactured by Odwalla Inc. of Half Moon Bay, Calif. She died several weeks later; 64 others became ill in several western U.S. states and British Columbia after drinking the same juices, which contained unpasteurized apple cider –and E. coli O157:H7. Investigators believe that some of the apples used to make the cider may have been insufficiently washed after falling to the ground and coming into contact with deer feces.

In the fall of 1998, I accompanied one of my four daughters on a kindergarten trip to the farm. After petting the animals and touring the crops –I questioned the fresh manure on the strawberries –we were assured that all the food produced was natural. We then returned for unpasteurized apple cider. The host served the cider in a coffee urn, heated, so my concern about it being unpasteurized was abated. I asked: "Did you serve the cider heated because you heard about other outbreaks and were concerned about liability?" She responded, "No. The stuff starts to smell when it’s a few weeks old and heating removes the smell."

Here’s the abstract from a paper Amber Luedtke and I published back in 2002:

A review of North American apple cider outbreaks caused by E. coli O157:H7 demonstrated that in the U.S., government officials, cider producers, interest groups and the public were actively involved in reforming and reducing the risk associated with unpasteurized apple cider. In Canada, media coverage was limited and government agencies inadequately managed and communicated relevant updates or new documents to the industry and the public.

Therefore, a survey was conducted with fifteen apple cider producers in Ontario, Canada, to gain a better understanding of production practices and information sources. Small, seasonal operations in Ontario produce approximately 20,000 litres of cider per year. Improper processing procedures were employed by some operators, including the use of unwashed apples and not using sanitizers or labeling products accurately.

Most did not pasteurize or have additional safety measures. Larger cider producers ran year-long, with some producing in excess of 500,000 litres of cider. Most sold to large retail stores and have implemented safety measures such as HACCP plans, cider testing and pasteurization. All producers surveyed received government information on an irregular basis, and the motivation to ensure safe, high-quality apple cider was influenced by financial stability along with consumer and market demand, rather than by government enforcement.

Candy porn: Do these images make you randy?

Simon Simpkins, a Pontefract, West Yorkshire, U.K. father of two, says he was buying Haribo MAOAM sour candies for his children when he noticed the ‘pornographic’ illustrations of limes, lemons and cherries romping with each other.

‘The lemon and lime are locked in what appears to be a carnal encounter.

‘The lime, whom I assume to be the gentleman in this coupling, has a particularly lurid expression on his face.’

A spokesman for Haribo said the ‘fun’ packaging of the sweets was introduced in Germany 2002 and added: ‘This jovial MAOAM man is very popular with fans, both young and old.’

Hallucinogenic chocolates doom Berlin sweet shop

In a scene seemingly straight out of the TV show, Weeds, Reuters reports that police closed down a Berlin sweet shop after discovering the owner was selling chocolates and lollipops laced with hallucinogenic mushrooms and marijuana.

The 23-year old owner of the shop in the trendy east Berlin district of Prenzlauer Berg, an area known for its vibrant night life, was taken into custody on suspicion of drug-dealing.

"In the shop we found 120 pieces of magic mushroom chocolate and countless cannabis lollipops," said police, who confiscated around 70 sachets containing various drugs, about 20 marijuana joints, a range of pills and some jars of drug-laced honey.

San Antonio candy apples could be crap

People on street corners around San Antonio sell candy apples, but now, the health department is, according to KENS 5 Eyewitness News, putting out the word that those apples could make you sick.

Metro Health Sanitation Manager Stephen Barscewski said,

“Hepatitis A, noro virus that have a fecal, oral route to them, so they’re practicing poor hygienic practices when they’re producing those apples. That’s always a threat. … Candy apples are being made in houses and garages around the city that certainly aren’t regulated by the city or the state."

The health department says most of the vendors are not licensed, and there’s no control over how or where the candy apples are made.

Fine for making unpasteurized cider below bird nests

While some may argue that bird poop is natural, others may argue that bird poop is an excellent source of salmonella, campylobacter and others.

On September 4, 2007, Dennis Wasylyszyn, an employee of Aberdeen Farm Market in Coldstream, B.C., pled guilty in provincial court to one count of violating s.4(e) of the Food and Drugs Act by selling an article of food which was manufactured or prepared under unsanitary conditions. Mr. Wasylyszyn was fined $2000 for this violation.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency explains that Mr. Wasylyszyn was preparing fresh, unpasteurized apple juice with a machine that was protected only by an open-raftered roof supported by four beams. The processing area was open to the air and there were indications birds were roosting in the rafters above the machine.

There was no evidence of illness related to consumption of the juice.