Mar 21, 2018 | Updated: 09:54 AM EDT

First Caramel Apples, Now the Ice Cream May be Infected—Listeria Epidemic

Dec 26, 2014 05:00 PM EST

First it's the caramel apples, now it's contaminated ice cream. Where will the CDC draw the line?

In a recent international outbreak of bacterial infection Listeria, health officials from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have investigated recent deaths and sourced the outbreak back to potentially bad batches of pre-made caramel apples sold in retail stores such as Safeway over the past few months. But now, as the holiday season is in full bloom and more cases are popping up day after day, CDC officials are finding other sources, as well, and are now putting a warning on ice cream potentially infected in some areas of the nation.

Caused by the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes, Listeriosis or Listeria is a disease that can cause gastrointestinal distress and flu-like symptoms in individuals, with a particular ability for harming people whose immune systems are stressed or compromised, including the elderly and pregnant women. In a press release issued this morning, the CDC warns all consumers to avoid prepackaged caramel apples while they investigate the outbreak, and source the cause of the infection in a joint collaboration alongside the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and state health organizations.

The newest warnings have arisen out two new cases from Washington state, where two gentlemen in the fifties, who also happen to be residents of King County, were recently hospitalized after consuming ice cream from local Snoqualmie Gourmet Ice Cream shop. Washington State Department of Health officials confirmed that the two men had in fact been infected with Listeria, but are also facing complications of previously underlying medical issues as well.

"They were ill" Washington Department of Health spokesperson Donn Moyer says. "The disease investigation started, they started noticing some similarities, and traced it back to this product."

While the current epidemic could very possibly be attributed to other sources, including a significant contribution from caramel apples recently recalled, the CDC is convinced that Snoqualmie's gourmet ice cream may be a source of Listeria to more than five states currently infected, including: Arizona, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and California.

Company officials with Snoqualmie Gourmet Ice Cream have declined to comment, though did issue a voluntary recall on Tuesday Dec. 23 for all flavors and sizes of their ice creams, custards, gelatos and sorbet manufactured and distributed between Dec. 15 and Jan 1. to be sure that consumers need not fear eating their product in the near future.

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