USA Today reports that retailers Aldi and Kroger have recalled shipments of apples in several states, including Georgia, due to potential contamination of the product with Listeria. The apples were apparently sourced from Nyblad Orchards and distributed by Jack Brown Produce, located in Sparta, Michigan, and incuded Fuji, Gala, Golden Delicious and Honeycrisp varieties sold since December 13. Additionally, the recalled apples were distributed in the Atlanta area through Instacart.
Listeria outbreaks can result from contamination of a variety of foods and can cause serious illness, as well as death. The affected retailers have advised consumers to dispose of the product or return it to the store for a full refund.
In Georgia, sellers of defective or otherwise harmful foods may be liable under the "Georgia Food Act" located at OCGA 26-2-20 through 26-2-41. This Act establishes both civil and criminal liability for sellers (including restaurants and retailers, such as grocery stores) that sell foods that can cause harm to buyers or other consumers. OCGA 26-2-26 specifically defines what constitutes an "adulterated" food, and the definitions include "any poisonous or deleterious substance which may render it injurious to health" as well as "produced, prepared, packed, or held under unsanitary conditions whereby it may have become contaminated with filth or whereby it may have been rendered diseased, unwholesome, or injurious to health."
Adulterated food, such as those contaminated by Listeria and other bacteria, can lead to food poisoning and other serious injuries or death. In 2008 and 2009, peanuts produced by the Peanut Corporation of America at its Blakely, Georgia plant were the source of a widespread Salmonella outbreak that allegedly caused as many as nine deaths and hundreds of illnesses around the country. The company ultimately filed bankruptcy, was the subject of civil lawsuits, and the company's chief executive was sentenced to 28 years in prison.