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Florida ice cream company Big Olaf recalls its products following a listeria outbreak

Sixteen out of the 17 flavors of Big Olaf ice cream samples tested came back positive for listeria, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Sixteen out of the 17 flavors of Big Olaf ice cream samples tested came back positive for listeria, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

A listeria outbreak in Big Olaf ice cream products that has sickened nearly two dozen people in 10 states forced the brand to recall all of its flavors and products this week, the Food and Drug Administration says.

The outbreak resulted in one death, one fetal loss and 22 hospitalizations, the FDA said.

"Based on epidemiological information collected by CDC and the [Florida Department of Health], Big Olaf ice cream products are a likely source of illness in this outbreak," the FDA said, citing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The FDA said that all "flavors, lots, codes, and expiration dates through 6/30/2022 are included in this recall." But it added that consumers and retailers should throw the product away, regardless of the "best by" or expiration date.

Cases were reported in Florida, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.

The CDC urges businesses that sold the ice cream to "clean and disinfect any areas and equipment that may have touched" the recalled products, "including ice cream scoops and other serving utensils."

The Big Olaf creamery in Florida halted production and distribution of its ice cream after the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services investigated the outbreak.

The company said in its recall announcement that it is "cooperating fully with regulatory authorities to successfully return all suspected products and has requested retailers to stop sales and dispose of product."

Big Olaf Creamery of Sarasota has multiple store locations in Florida and sells to retailers and restaurants across the state. The brand also has one location in Ohio.

Erin Moffet, a spokesperson for the Florida agriculture agency, said in a statement to NPR: "The results from product sampling taken from the Big Olaf production facility last week by [the department] found that 16 of the 17 flavors tested were positive for Listeria monocytogenes (L. mono)."

According to the Florida agency, the Big Olaf ice cream flavors where listeria was found in product samples include:

  • Blueberry Cheesecake
  • Butter Pecan
  • Cherry Cordial
  • Chocolate
  • Chocolate Chip
  • Coconut
  • Coconut Almond Joy
  • Cookie Dough
  • Cookies & Cream
  • Kahlua Krunch
  • Mint Chip
  • Pistachio
  • Plantation Praline
  • Superman
  • Vanilla
  • White Chocolate Raspberry
  • "With these results, FDACS is currently issuing formal stop sales on the 16 products where [Listeria] was found, which were previously part of a voluntary recall," Moffet said. Moffet said the department is working with other state and federal agencies on the investigation, which is ongoing.

    Listeria can lead to life-threatening and potentially fatal infections for vulnerable populations, including those who are young, immunocompromised or elderly. Short-term symptoms in healthy people can include high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, according to the FDA.

    Listeria infections can also result in miscarriages or stillbirths.

    Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

    Shauneen Miranda
    Shauneen Miranda is a summer 2022 Digital News intern.
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