After updating the Ubuntu servers I maintain on the 30 of September I'm
having this problem too. However only on one of the servers which is
currently running Ubuntu 14.04.5 LTS (3.13.0-96-generic #143-Ubuntu SMP
Mon Aug 29 20:15:20 UTC 2016 x86_64 x86_64 x86_64 GNU/Linux).

If I run apt-check manually with the following command: 
# /usr/lib/update-notifier/apt-check --human-readable
0 packages can be updated.
0 updates are security updates.

It outputs quite quickly but running apt-get update tends to cause multiple 
processes of 
'apt-check --human-readable' and causes high load.

top shows the following:
##
top - 11:00:03 up 11 days, 10:28,  1 user,  load average: 28.85, 16.79, 7.03
Tasks: 279 total,   9 running, 266 sleeping,   0 stopped,   4 zombie
%Cpu(s): 20.5 us,  7.7 sy,  0.1 ni, 70.5 id,  1.1 wa,  0.0 hi,  0.1 si,  0.0 st
KiB Mem:   1013868 total,   943524 used,    70344 free,      664 buffers
KiB Swap:  1046524 total,    58400 used,   988124 free.   505288 cached Mem

 PID USER      PR  NI    VIRT    RES    SHR S %CPU %MEM     TIME+ COMMAND
15494 root      39  19  121672  34420  21224 D  4.5  3.4   0:03.18 apt-check
15650 root      39  19  121672  34260  21060 R  4.5  3.4   0:03.21 apt-check
16038 root      39  19  121676  34744  21532 D  4.5  3.4   0:03.22 apt-check
16144 root      39  19  121676  35260  22052 D  4.5  3.5   0:03.17 apt-check
16642 root      39  19  103884  28516  19756 D  4.5  2.8   0:02.48 apt-check

htop shows mostly the same but with instead of apt-check gives more info about 
the command:
'/usr/bin/python /usr/lib/update-notifier/apt-check --human-readable'


The server also shows more average load across the board in vSphere. CPU% has 
increase from normally 6% to average of 33%. However I'm not sure if this is 
related. 

Also found a tread on serverfault with the same issue:
http://serverfault.com/questions/471089/prevent-apt-check-from-eating-
all-my-memory

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https://bugs.launchpad.net/bugs/746508

Title:
  apt-check uses too much resources (starts too many processes)

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