Caramel apples are arguably as much a part of Halloween as trick-or-treating and trying to find a non-“sexy” version of a costume at your local pop-up Halloween shop. But maybe they shouldn’t be, according to some buzzkill scientists.
To be fair, this surprised even the people doing the study. Apples are fairly acidic, making them hostile to bacteria, and caramel doesn’t have much water, which bacteria generally needs to thrive. But then a listeriosis outbreak was sourced to caramel apples. But it turns out the bad guy in this equation was the stick: According to the research, caramel apples without sticks showed little sign of listeria growth, but with a stick, and kept at room temperature, the bacteria grew quickly.
The theory is that puncturing the apple brings juice, and thus water, to the surface. That gives bacteria a place to grow, and thus makes the apple a breeding ground. In other words, if you want to eat a caramel apple, either don’t put them on sticks when you make them, or if you do put them on sticks, throw them in the fridge. For my end, I’d say coat them completely in caramel and put them on a fork when you’re ready to eat. Really, who eats a caramel apple for the stick?
(Via Pop Sci)