Caramel apples recalled after fatal listeria outbreak

A Missouri company is recalling packaged caramel apples that may be linked to a listeria outbreak that has hospitalized 29 people and killed at least three in 10 states.

Happy Apples of Washington, Missouri, recalled caramel apples carrying a best-use date between Aug. 25 and Nov. 23 that were sold in grocery, discount and club stores in packs of one, three, four and eight.

In a statement this week, the company said an apple supplier, Bidart Brothers, had notified it that “there may be a connection between this outbreak and the apples that they supplied” to a Happy Apples facility in California.

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned consumers to stop eating prepackaged caramel apples while it investigated the outbreak of listeria monocytogenes, a bacterium that causes the rare but sometimes fatal infection. Older people, pregnant women, newborns and people with weakened immune systems are particularly vulnerable to the pathogen. The CDC said nine of the illnesses occurred in pregnant women or newborns. Three people have come down with meningitis.

Citigroup OKs deal to sell Japanese banking business

Citigroup has agreed to sell its retail banking business in Japan to Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp., the companies said Thursday.

The deal involves the sale of Citibank Japan’s ATMs and 32 retail branches including 740,000 customer accounts and about $21 billion worth of yen and foreign currency accounts to a trust bank subsidiary of SMBC.

It said about 1,600 Citibank Japan employees in Japan will also be transferred to SMBC, one of three Japanese mega-banks.

Citigroup said it also is considering selling its credit card business in Japan, separately, as it streamlines its global banking and focuses on corporate and investment banking.

Russian Cabinet ministers losing New Year’s holidays

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday scrapped New Year’s holidays for government ministers because of the unfolding economic crisis.

Russian company employees throughout the country are entitled to holiday from Jan. 1 to Jan. 12 when Russians celebrate the New Year, the main holiday in Russia, as well as Orthodox Christmas on Jan. 7.

Putin told a televised government session on Thursday that Cabinet ministers should not take this time off.

“For the government, for your agencies we cannot afford this long holiday, at least this year – you know what I mean,” he said.

Russia’s economy, battered by low oil prices and Western sanctions, is set to enter recession next year for the first time in six years, while the ruble is now worth less than half of its value.

Britain reminds civilians to fly drones responsibly

Got a nifty little drone for Christmas? If so, fly it carefully. Especially if you are in Britain.

The country’s civil aviation authority on Thursday issued a warning that people who fly their drones recklessly face prosecution and a hefty fine.

Officials say the popular gifts cannot be used over congested areas or close to people or buildings without official permission. Fines go up to $8,000.

The warning follows a number of near-misses involving drones, including one that came close to a commercial plane landing at London Heathrow Airport.

– From news service reports