Minnesota's Health and Agriculture Departments are investigating after an outbreak of Listeria linked to caramel apples led to the deaths of two people.
Thursday night's announcement by the Health Department says two other people sickened by the food-borne bacteria were hospitalized. The department says the four people ranged in age from 59 to 90 and became ill in October and November.
State officials are warning any consumers who have pre-packaged, commercially produced caramel apples not to eat them.
The announcement describes the multi-state outbreak as being investigated in conjunction with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration.
The tainted caramel apples were purchased from Cub Foods, Kwik Trip, and Mike's Discount Food and were packaged under the Carnival and Kitchen Cravings labels.
The Health Department says the ongoing investigation may uncover other affected brands or locations, which leads to the warning against eating any caramel apples. Apples not coated with caramel have not been linked to the outbreak.
The caramel apples that have been linked to Listeria are no longer being sold at retailers, but officials are concerned that consumers may still have some.
Listeriosis bacteria most commonly affect older adults, pregnant women, newborns, and those with weakened immune systems, the Health Department says. Their web page has more on how the disease is spread and how to limit exposure to the bacteria.