Listeria fear is ramping up in the wake of two major recalls in the ice cream industry. First, it was Blue Bell Creameries recalling all their products from store shelves.
The popular ice cream brand’s Listeria contamination has been linked to 10 illnesses in four states, including three deaths. Blue Bell took its only option by recalling every product.
Now, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream is following the same recall path. The listeria contamination in ice cream from Jeni’s was found during a spot check by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture.
Its lab discovered listeria in a sample from a Whole Foods store in Lincoln. Jeni’s response was quick and total. John Lowe released a statement on the company’s website detailing the recall.
All products bearing the name ‘Jeni’s’ were recalled. This includes ice cream, frozen yogurts, ice cream sandwiches and sorbets. In addition to the product recall, retail locations were shutting down temporarily.
“We will not reopen the kitchen until we can ensure the safety of our customers,” Lowe said in the statement.
Lowe said the company was working with its suppliers to determine if it was an ingredient used by Jeni’s behind the listeria contamination.
Blue Bell kept its operations open until yesterday, purely for testing purposes. None of the product manufactured since the recall will be sold to the public, as the company works to gather data. The plants in Texas, Oklahoma and Alabama will be closed next week and possibly into the next.
Are the Two Listeria Contaminations Related?
With two ice cream makers issuing blanket recalls, it’s a valid question. The FDA has weighed in, saying there is currently no evidence to support a link.
“At this time, the FDA does not believe that the finding of listeria in one sample of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams is related to the outbreak and recall associated with Blue Bell Ice Cream,” said Food and Drug Administration spokesman Jeff Ventura. “We are continuing to investigate both situations and will provide updated information to consumers as we learn more.”
What makes these listeria contamination cases unusual is the ice cream element. Listeria cannot grow in freezing temperatures, and is rarely found in ice cream products.
The investigations into the contamination will reveal a lot about the industry, and possibly lead to changes in how ice cream is prepared and packaged.
What is Listeria?
Knowledge is power when it comes to food recalls. Listeria can be a serious infection caused by eating the contaminated food.
It primarily affects older adults, pregnant women, adults with suppressed immune system and young kids.
Symptoms of a listeriosis infection include fever and muscle aches, which can be preceded by diarrhea and other gastric symptoms.
What do you do? If you have any Blue Bell or Jenni’s products in your freezer, either toss them or return them to the store for a refund. If you are at risk for the infection and start seeing the symptoms, go the doctor. Better to err on the side of caution.
Follow the CDC’s site on Listeria. The agency is posting the latest news on the contamination and the recalls.