Fall’s crisp days are quickly drying out into a spooky, bitter cold as Halloween approaches and small, masked children gather in mobs. But this Hallow’s Eve promises to be even more frightening, as something truly macabre awaits us: it’s the sweet taste of death and it’s coming from inside the house.
Come closer—no closer—I have something for you. It’s an apple, my dear. Won’t you try it? Aha! Your lips turn white, your skin dry as paper. You’re falling, the shadows are closing in, but no prince can wake you from your diseased slumber—you have listeria, and you’re dead.
Listeria—that dark mistress of the stomach infection—stalks the old and the pregnant with its bacterial scythe. And according to science, caramel apples—two ingredients long thought to be resistant to listeria—are actually ground zero for the careless baker.
Researchers from the Food Research Institute at the University of Wisconsin say an outbreak last year that killed seven was “caused when sticks were inserted into the apples before they were dipped,” evidently creating a moist little apple bed for listeria bacteria to gather its strength.
And it could happen again this year mwhahaha.
“If someone ate those apples fresh, they probably would not get sick,” Kathleen Glass, associate director of the Food Research Institute, claimed in a press release. “But because caramel-dipped apples are typically set out at room temperature for multiple days, maybe up to two weeks, it is enough time for the bacteria to grow.”
But guess what—the Listeria’s already in some of the apples. A batch of fresh Granny Smiths were just recalled in Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.
The adage, it seems, is true: apple a day keeps the doctor away, if only because the autopsy is complete and they’ve moved on to the next corpse—they’re on the clock.