Poison Apples: Not Just in Fairy Tales Any More

State with biggest apple crop girds against more Listeria

(Food Safety News) Shaken by apple recalls back East for Listeria contamination, Washington State’s large apple industry has pinned its hopes for staying pathogen free on research.

Poison apples used to be the stuff of fairy tales, but apples are now being implicated in widespread outbreaks of food poisoning.

Ines Hanrahan, the post-harvest physiologist at the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission, told the Capital Press that studies currently underway should help the state apple industry get the maximum bacterial reduction.

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Her comments came after December recalls by the Kroger and Aldi grocery store chains of apples grown in Michigan and the Southeast over concerns about possible Listeria contamination.

Hanrahan says that’s something the Washington State apple industry wants to avoid. “We are very concerned in Washington about Listeria and have been trying to do everything possible to set up processes to avoid problems,” she said.

Every state in the United States grows apples, and 29 states raise apples commercially, but Washington State produces about 70 percent of the apples in the United States.

And, the Evergreen State manufacturers about 40 percent of all U.S. apple juice products.

Hanrahan says the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission, Washington State University, and the Center for Produce Safety at the University of California Davis are all involved in apple studies.

She says these efforts will help the industry determine the best operating procedures to “get the maximum bacterial reduction.”

A Washington State apple grower, Crunch Pak, recalled sliced apples in 2013 for Listeria contamination.

Then in late 2014 and early 2015, caramel apples all sourced to fresh apples from Bidart Brothers in Bakersfield, CA caused a major Listeria outbreak. Featured image, Lauren Pollock, CC. Read the full story at Food Safety News

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