First Blue Bell and now Jeni’s. We’re not screaming for ice cream this week.
Blue Bell Creamery, based in Brenham, Texas, and distributed across the South and Southwest, recalled all of its ice cream on April 20 because of a listeria contamination found in samples. The wholesale recall by the third largest ice cream maker in the US came about after several smaller recalls of specific flavors in preceding weeks tested positive for listeria.
Today, another ice cream manufacturer announced a recall. This time it’s Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, which is apparently not so splendid at the moment because, like Blue Bell, inspectors have discovered a listeria contamination in random samples.
There’s a potential that people could become ill from this organism, which can cause serious symptoms such as high fever, headaches, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, particularly in children, elderly people and those with compromised immune systems. Pregnant women can suffer miscarriages or stillbirths. Blue Bell-contaminated ice cream already has caused eight reported illnesses.
Nebraska health inspectors found the listeria monocytogenes contamination at a facility producing Jeni’s, which is based in Columbus, Ohio. That triggered the recall of all of the company’s manufactured frozen dairy products, the yogurts, sorbets, ice cream sandwiches, the works.
The company is ceasing all sales and closing all scoop shops until all products are ensured to be 100% safe, the Food and Drug Administration reported.
The Jeni’s ice creams and frozen yogurts being recalled were distributed to a variety of US retail outlets and all bear the Jeni’s name, the FDA said.
There have been no reports of illnesses related to Jeni’s, but the company wants to act with an abundance of caution.
“We have decided to recall everything currently on retailer shelves, and we are closing our scoop shops until we are 100% confident every item we sell is safe. We have called in experts to help us find the root cause,” says John Lowe, CEO of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams.
“We will be working with our suppliers to determine if the bacteria was introduced by one of the ingredients we use. We will not reopen the kitchen until we can ensure the safety of our customers.”
The full recall of Jeni’s comes against the backdrop of eight people having been treated (five in Kansas and three in Texas) for listeriosis infections related to Blue Bell ice cream.
Blue Bell’s CEO said the company doesn’t want to risk any more illnesses and that’s why it announced the full recall on Monday. By that time testing had revealed that Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream produced on March 17 and March 27, also contained the listeria bacteria, meaning that several samples of different flavors had been found to be contaminated at different manufacturing facilities. The company has production plants in Oklahoma and Alabama as well as in Brenham.
“We’re committed to doing the 100 percent right thing, and the best way to do that is to take all of our products off the market until we can be confident that they are all safe,” said Paul Kruse, Blue Bell CEO and president.
“We are heartbroken about this situation and apologize to all of our loyal Blue Bell fans and customers. Our entire history has been about making the very best and highest quality ice cream and we intend to fix this problem. We want enjoying our ice cream to be a source of joy and pleasure, never a cause for concern, so we are committed to getting this right.”
The recall affected customers in several states, where Blue Bell is sold or used by food services: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wyoming and international locations.
The FDA advises those who’ve bought Blue Bell ice cream and still have it in their freezer to discard it.
Blue Bell has announced it’s initiating additional testing and safety measures, including testing before shipments, before starting a limited return to production.
The investigation involving the contaminated ice cream is complicated and involves comparing samples taken from people who fell ill to those found in the ice cream. The Centers for Disease Control is looking at 10 total cases that may be linked to the Blue Bell contamination, including three deaths in Kansas, dating as far back as 2010.
Investigators have not yet found the cause of the listeria outbreak. You can read the chronology of the FDA’s investigation here.