Watchdog Calls on Traders to Take Tainted Apples Off the Market Following Listeriosis Outbreak in US

An environmental and health watchdog group has urged concerned traders to take out apples that were recalled in US few days ago due to listeriosis outbreak that have so far killed seven persons.

“Amid the frenzy over the papal visit, we urge the authorities to act swiftly on this public health issue and ensure that the contaminated apples are not sold to consumers,” said Aileen Lucero, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

The US Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) recently alerted the government through the Philippine Trade and Invesment Center in Washington DC over the export to the Philippines of some 375,000 cartons of apples from California-based Bidart Bros.  The Department of Trade and Industry – Consumer Protection Group yesterday released the said advisory.

Last January 6, Bidart Bros. voluntarily recalled its Gala and Granny Smith apples after environmental testing showed that its apple-packing facility was contaminated with bacterium Listeria monocytogenes, which causes listeriosis, a deadly disease.

“We appeal to the local consignees of the apple shipments and their distributors to cooperate with the authorities and voluntarily withdraw the tainted produce for safe disposal,” she said.

“If the concerned parties do not act quickly, we might find the recalled apples being sold soon at rock-bottom prices in Divisoria and Quiapo at the expense of consumer health,” she pointed out.

Listeriosis, a serious infection usually caused by eating food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, can be fatal, particularly for the most vulnerable groups such as adults above 65 years of age, persons with weakened immune systems, pregnant women and newborns.

“In pregnant women, listeriosis can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature labor, and serious illness or death in newborn babies,” the US FDA warned.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control, 32 people infected with the outbreak strains of Listeria monocytogenes were  reported from 11 states, out of which 31 were hospitalized and seven died with listeriosis causing at least three of these fatalities

“Since these recalled products could cause serious adverse health consequences or death, we wanted to provide you with information so that you can follow-up to assure that products are removed from commerce in your country,” the US FDA advisory said.

As advised by the US FDA, “consumers should not eat the Granny Smith and Gala apples being recalled by Bidart Brothers,” adding that “consumers should not eat commercially-produced, prepackaged whole caramel apples, including those containing nuts, sprinkles, chocolate, or other toppings, that were produced using Bidart Bros. apples.”