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Source of Listeria in Ice Cream Recalls Unknown

Major recalls by two established ice cream companies due to the presence of listeria monocytogenes in their products raise questions about how the bacteria could have contaminated different manufacturing plants – and whether the recalls are connected.

Free Ice Cream Recall Lawsuit Evaluation: If you or a loved one developed symptoms of food poisoning after eating ice cream, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a suit against the manufacturer of the ice cream and our lawyers can help.

What’s the problem?

April 27, 2015Blue Bell Creameries of Brenham, TX, and Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams of Columbus, OH, have each issued recalls for their products in recent weeks.

Blue Bell ice cream has been linked to at least 10 listeria infections in 4 states, including 3 deaths. To date, no illnesses have been linked to the Jeni’s ice cream recall, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Recalls Unusual, No Link Between Outbreaks

The recalls are unusual due to the fact that listeria rarely contaminates ice cream because the bacterium can’t survive at freezing temperatures.

“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 FDA spokesman Jeff Ventura. “We are continuing to investigate both situations and will provide updated information to consumers as we learn more.”

John Lowe, CEO of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, said in a statement that the company is working with its suppliers to determine whether listeria was introduced through one of the ingredients. The company has issued a recall for all of its ice creams, frozen yogurts, sorbets and ice cream sandwiches, and is temporarily closing all 7 of its scoop shops.

“We will not reopen the kitchen until we can ensure the safety of our customers,” Lowe said.

Jeni’s initiated the recall after listeria was found in a random sample of ice cream at a Whole Foods store in Lincoln, NE. Affected products were distributed in the U.S. to retail outlets, including food service and grocery stores, as well as over the Internet.

Last week, Blue Bell announced plans to close its plants in Texas, Oklahoma and Alabama for cleaning. The facilities will be closed over the next several weeks, according to the company.

Different Approaches to Recall

Despite the similarities between the Jeni’s and Blue Bell ice cream recalls, the two companies handled the problem differently. Blue Bell initially tried doing specific limited recalls for more than a month as more listeria contamination kept turning up, before the company gave in and issued an across-the-board recall.

Jeni’s, on the other hand, recalled all of its products immediately after a sample had tested positive for listeria. How will the differing responses play out with customers?

Both Jeni’s and Blue Bell have cult-like followings that are likely to remain loyal; however, crisis management expert Jonathan Bernstein said Jeni’s conducted a “technically perfect” recall.

“In terms of response, they did the best possible thing they could do, and that kind of communication component of a recall is the cheapest part of it. It’s just a question of doing the right thing, and they did,” Bernstein said.

Listeria Outbreak a ‘Wakeup Call’ for Ice Cream Industry

Dr. Robert Tauxe, Deputy Director of Foodborne, Waterborne and Environmental Diseases at the CDC, called the outbreaks a “wakeup call” for the ice cream industry.

Listeria lives in soil and water and can be tracked into a manufacturing plant, carried by animals or spread by employees not using proper sanitation practices. The bacteria can be difficult to get rid of once it contaminates a facility, partly because it grows well in refrigeration.

Listeria Symptoms

  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Cramping
  • Back pain

Do I Have an Ice Cream Recall Lawsuit?

The Food Poisoning Litigation Group at our law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in ice cream lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new listeria food poisoning cases in all 50 states.

Free Ice Cream Recall Lawsuit Evaluation: Again, if you or a loved one was diagnosed with listeria poisoning after eating ice cream, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a Food Poisoning Suit and our lawyers can help.

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