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Urgent warning: This recalled ice cream is still on sale despite a deadly outbreak

Published Jul 13th, 2022 12:49PM EDT
Ice Cream
Image: beats_/Adobe

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The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a new warning about the Big Olaf Creamery ice cream recall. It’s tied to an outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes that had already caused multiple deaths.

The agency is concerned that retailers may still be selling Big Olaf ice cream products. It’s urging those companies to dispose of the Big Olaf ice cream supply.

With that in mind, it’s urgent that you make note of this warning and avoid buying any recalled ice cream. And people who already have recalled Big Olaf ice cream at home should not eat it.

Big Olaf Creamery ice cream recall

Per WFLA, Big Olaf Creamery issued a recall for its Sarasota line of products on July 8th. That’s when the company stopped production at the facility. The information comes from the Florida Department of Health (FL DOH).

The FDA notes in its warning that it is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the FL DOH, and the Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (FDACS) to investigate the Listeria outbreak.

Epidemiological information from the CDC and FL DOH indicate that Big Olaf products are the likely source of the outbreak. A total of 23 people from 10 states got the Listeria strain. Of 18 people who authorities had interviewed, all reported eating this particular brand of ice cream.

The FDA says in its Listeria outbreak warning that 22 people have been hospitalized so far. According to the CDC investigation, the first cases date back to January 2021. The agencies have registered one adult death and one miscarriage so far.

Why Listeria is dangerous

Listeria monocytogenes is often a cause of food product recalls. The bacteria can survive and grow on refrigerated products like the Big Olaf ice cream in this recall.

In healthy individuals, the bacteria will typically cause mild symptoms that can include fever, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. More severe versions of the illness can lead to headaches, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions.

Symptoms often appear a few days after consuming a contaminated product. But can sometimes take several weeks for symptoms to present themselves.

Big Olaf ice cream recall: Map of Listeria outbreak.
Big Olaf ice cream recall: Map of Listeria outbreak. Image source: CDC via FDA

Young children, the elderly, and immunocompromised people might risk developing a potentially fatal illness. Moreover, pregnant women risk miscarriages, stillbirths, and baby infections.

WFLA noted the case of a Massachusetts woman who suffered a miscarriage after eating Big Olaf ice cream. Her family is now suing the company.

A family of an Illinois woman who died following a Listeria infection is also suing the company.

Big Olaf said in a recent statement that nothing has been proven at this point.

Big Olaf Company’s response

“For now it is only speculation as it is an ongoing investigation, our brand has not been confirmed to be linked to these cases, I am not sure why only Big Olaf is being mentioned and targeted,” Big Olaf Company wrote in a statement on Facebook.

The statement continues, “The original report we got from the Florida Department of Health on Friday July 1st, was that there are 23 cases reported, the first one reported was January 2021. 6 out of the 23 patients mentioned having consumed Big Olaf ice cream, but nothing has been proven. We have been cooperating with the Florida Department of Health, FDACS and the FDA as soon as we were informed about the situation. We have been transparent and have answered all their questions and provided them with all the information requested from us, as the health and well being of the public is our first priority.”

What you should do

If you own any Big Olaf ice cream products from this recall, you should heed the FDA’s advice and throw them out immediately. Make sure you clean all the surfaces the ice cream might have come in contact with to avoid the risk of cross-contamination and infection.

The FDA has handling and cleaning advice at this link.

People who experience symptoms that might point to a Listeria infection should contact a doctor. Testing will be required to determine whether the Listeria bacteria is the culprit.

Also, make sure you check out the FDA’s listeria outbreak warning at this link. The CDC has its own page for the investigation.

You won’t find a recall notice on the Big Olaf website. But you can find contact information for the company if you have any related concerns.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.