Caramel-coated apples aren’t a health threat unless they aren’t properly stored in a refrigerator and the sticks are introduced on the spot.
Last year’s Listeria outbreak linked to caramel-coated apples took everyone by surprise. More importantly, it led to the death of seven people who had consumed the delicious treats and the hospitalization of another 35.
With this in mind, a team of researchers sought the reason behind the Listeria outbreak due to the typical holiday treats. In high-demand around holiday season, caramel-coated apples shouldn’t be the medium of bacterial growth. As they are quite acid by themselves, bacteria such as Listeria monocytogenes cannot thrive in this medium.
Yet, according to the study featuring in the mBio journal, it has no issues thriving in the apple juice resulted from the piercing with the very handy stick. Lead author Kathleen Glass from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, commented:
“The outbreak took producers, public health officials and food safety experts by surprise: caramel-coated apples are not a food on which Listeria monocytogenes should grow”.
As such, the research team took the laboratory setting to understand what drives Granny Smith apples (used in their experiment) in becoming a nursery for the dangerous bacteria.
No infection was detected initially. Upon coating the apples, the researchers kept one batch as such. A second batch was pierced with the easy handle sticks. Then, each batch was split in two. One part went to the refrigerator, while the second was left at room temperature.
Upon analysing all batches, the researchers concluded that apples and caramel-coated apples aren’t a health threat until they are pierced, leading the juice to form a welcoming environment for bacterial growth.
The refrigerated caramel-coated apples that had been pierced showed signs of Listeria developing. The pierced ones left at the temperature of the room were found to be the most attractive for Listeria development.
As such, if you’re looking to avoid the possibility of being infected with the dangerous bacteria due to consuming caramel-coated apples, keep in mind that it is the exposed juice due to the piercing that ups the risk.
Photo Credits: Flickr