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Health officials link California apple packer to listeria deaths

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Food and Drug Administration says strains of listeria found on surfaces inside a California apple packing facility match listeria bacteria found in 32 people sickened across the country, including at least three deaths.

The illnesses and deaths have been linked to the consumption of caramel apples.

Health officials warned consumers in December to avoid all prepackaged caramel apples after the deaths and illnesses in 11 states, including Washington, were reported.

California-based Bidart Bros. has recalled all shipments of Granny Smith and Gala apples that came from its Shafter, California, packing facility in 2014.

The company’s president, Leonard Bidart, said in a release that the news is “devastating” to the Bidart family.

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