- A leading frozen dessert manufacturer has pulled all their products from market due to concerns of Listeria contamination.
- These concerns arose after their ice cream was linked to 10 illnesses and three fatalities, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Reports indicate confirmed listeria infections have been confirmed in four states, with a large number of cases in individuals with weakened immune systems.
- Listeria outbreaks, while rare, are typically caused by food hygiene and storage issues. The bacteria can endure and grow even in refrigerated environments.
- The manufacturer plans to resume distribution once the safety of their products can be guaranteed, encouraging customers to return any recalled items for a full refund.
A prominent frozen dessert manufacturer announced it would withdraw all its products from the market due to potential contamination with a bacterium that can lead to gastrointestinal ailments.
This action was taken after it was found that their ice cream was linked to 10 illnesses, of which three were fatal, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Potential Contamination Detected
Recent tests have shown that certain versions of cookie dough ice cream, manufactured on specific dates, contained Listeria monocytogenes, leading to this unprecedented action by the company based in Brenham, Texas.
The company highlighted that it had encountered multiple positive tests for listeria from different sources and that the exact origin of the contamination within their facilities remained unknown.
Regional Listeria Infections
Confirmed listeria infections have been reported in four states, consisting of Arizona, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas according to the CDC.
While listeria typically is not harmful to those with a robust immune system, it can cause substantial illness in those with compromised immune systems such as the elderly, infants, and patients with conditions like HIV.
Understanding Listeria Infections
“Within the United States, listeria causes approximately 1,600 infections and three to four outbreaks a year,” said Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency medicine physician based in New York City.
Despite fewer fatalities linked to listeria compared to other foodborne diseases like salmonella, the severity of listeria cases can range from mild to critical, as noted by Dr. Brendan Jackson, a medical epidemiologist at the CDC.
Those most at risk are individuals with weakened immune systems, including patients with conditions such as HIV, diabetes, heart disease, as well as pregnant women and the elderly. In these individuals, listeria can cause grave illness, including meningitis and sepsis and can also lead to stillborn infants and miscarriages,” he added.
Food Hygiene and Listeria Control
Lack of food hygiene and prolonged storage are usually linked to listeria alongside its unique ability to grow even in refrigerated conditions. However, being found in ice cream is a rarity, stated Jackson to CDC.
Historically, listeria outbreaks have been linked to deli meats, soft cheeses, and other ready-to-eat meats. Its ability to survive in a food-processing factory for many years and potentially contaminate food products makes it a notable concern.
In the recent issue with the ice cream manufacturer, there were indications of illness caused by consumption of the ice cream dating back to 2011 with continued cases till 2014 in Texas and from 2014 to 2015 in Kansas.
The company expects to resume limited distribution once the safety of their product can be assured. Customers who have purchased the recalled items are advised to return them for a full refund.
For more information on listeria, you can visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.