Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., is asking the Food and Drug Administration whether it could have responded more quickly to an outbreak of listeriosis linked to caramel apples that killed two people in her state.

The outbreak, connected to commercially-produced, prepackaged caramel apples, has sickened at least 32 people in 11 states, hospitalizing 31 of them  Ten of the illnesses were pregnancy-related, including one that resulted in a fetal loss.

In a letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, sent Thursday, «Klobuchar» asks if it was necessary to wait until a lab test confirmed that California apple grower, Bidart Bros., was the source of the listeria, or whether the agency could have asked for a recall “earlier based on the epidemiology and trace-back findings?”

“This winter’s outbreak of listeriosis underscored the critical importance of ensuring the safety of our country’s food supple,” Klobuchar wrote. “Now that the FDA and its partner agencies have pinpointed the source of this deadly outbreak, they need to conduct a thorough review of the response effort to ensure that future incidents are quickly contained and prevented entirely.”

Klobuchar authored legislation that established five Food Safety Centers of Excellence, which coordinate federal, state and local outbreak investigations, based on  surveillance systems in Minnesota, which have long been considered the best in the country.  The legislation became part of the Food Safety Modernization Act (PL  111-353).