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Recently, there has been a lot of news about caramel apples. Reports about listeria have covered various, media venues, but there is a lot of erroneous information out there. Rest assured caramel apples are still a delicious, healthy and safe trip for everyone in your family… but there are a few things you need to look for…
The 2014 outbreak for listeria in caramel apples was from a single producer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Multistate Outbreak of Listeriosis Linked to Commercially Produced, Prepackaged Caramel Apples Made from Bidart Bros. Apples.” However, with all of the online stories and news, it became a huge story, and people thought this issues related to all apples. It did not, and Tastee Apples were not involved in this health issue AT ALL.
Many of the stories about caramel apples are based on faulty research. For example, in a recent study done at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the information is flawed as the researcher never washed the apples.
All of the apples we use in all of our Tastee Apple products come directly from growers who share our concerns for food safety. And these same, fresh-apple suppliers provide apples to your local stores. These growers wash and sanitize the apples and then put them in boxes or bags to ship to your grocery store or directly to our facility where we make our coated apples. We then re-wash and re-sanitize our apples, running the apples through a plume of sanitizing solution (a solution known to kill pathogens) just prior to dipping them in caramel that is 190°F. This is a temperature high enough to pasteurize the outside of the apple.
We use the same sanitation-process for our caramel apple wash-water that major suppliers use for products that retailers stock on their shelves every day.
When choosing your caramel apples, look for quality. Tastee Apple, Inc. is the only U.S.-based company in the industry with a Safe Quality Food Level-2 certification. SQF is the gold standard when it comes to a quality standard used globally by major food producers to insure the products they sell are the safest possible.
According to the SQFI site:
“The SQF Code is a process and product certification standard. It is a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP)-based food safety and quality management system that utilizes the National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Food (NACMCF) and the CODEX Alimentarius Commission HACCP principles and guidelines.
Certification of an SQF System by a certification body licensed by the Safe Quality Food Institute (SQFI) is an assurance that the supplier’s food safety plans have been implemented in accordance with the HACCP method and applicable regulatory requirements and that they have been verified and determined effective to manage food safety.”
Plus, we have a 7 step-rating process to ensure quality which includes: selection, testing, cleaning, decorating, packing, shipping, and customer enjoyment.
This may be common sense, but if the apple looks brown, dented and well… just not fresh, it probably isn’t. You can always cut away spots and dented areas and eat the rest of the apple. But if you are buying a fresh apple, it should be completely fresh!
While most apple producers and store managers pay close attention to the food they present to customers, bad products can make it onto the shelves. If you are buying packaged apples, check to make sure the item is sealed completely without any rips or holes.
Look carefully at the packaged fruit to see if there are hidden brown spots on the bottom of the apples. Do the apples have the right color and texture?
While most grocery stores don’t want you “handling” their fruit, when you pick up the apple, ask yourself if it is firm. If it feels a little mushy, put it back in the pile and choose a different apple. Mother Nature is good, but she is not perfect.
And if you bite into the apple at home, and it tastes strange, don’t eat it. If it’s a Tastee Apple, contact us immediately, and we will find out what is going on. If you bought the apple elsewhere, return it to the store immediately and let the manager know there is something “off” with the apple.
While the caramel and chocolate coating may mask a bad apple, you’ll know the second you bite into it if it doesn’t taste right. Stay on the safe side, and avoid eating the apple.
There are many ways to avoid eating bad apples. In addition to checking the produce carefully before purchasing it, you also need to look at the source.
Where does your fruit come from?
The apples we use in all of our products come directly from growers who share our concerns for food safety. And these same, fresh-apple suppliers provide apples to your local stores. These growers wash and sanitize the apples and then put them in boxes or bags to ship to your grocery store or directly to Tastee Apple, Inc.
In addition, Tastee Apple, Inc. is the only U.S.-based company in the industry with a Safe Quality Food (SQF) Level-2 certification. This is the top, quality standard used globally by major food producers to insure the products they sell are as safe as possible.
Apples are a wonderful treat everyone enjoys. But before taking that first, crunchy bite, know that your apple is fresh by checking it carefully and learning about its origin and how it got to your favorite store. This way, you’ll enjoy it thoroughly and want to eat more!
And for more healthy tips about caramel, chocolate and jelly apples, click here.