A little over a week ago, a nationwide recall of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream started after a random sampling by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture tested positive for the presence of Listeria monocytogenes. As part of the recall, Jeni’s company is tossing 265 tons of ice cream and plans to not reopen any scoop shops or kitchens until the contamination issue has been resolved. Recent news reports that hundreds of swab samples were taken of Jeni’s production kitchen – including swabs of processing equipment, kitchen utensils, floor mats and drain pipes. Early indications from these tests have indicated the presence of Listeria monocytogenes and now a full eradication plan is in place with extensive cleaning of the production facility having started on April 26th. Jeni’s company plans to re-swab the facility in the near future and has hired expert help to implement new post-production testing procedures and to ensure this problem doesn’t occur again. Thankfully, as of yet, there haven’t been any reports of customer illness.
If you are guilty of having enjoyed a delightful trio or pint from Jeni’s within the past month, here’s some useful information you should know about Listeria and symptoms of infection.
Where it is Found:
Listeria is commonly found in sewage, soil, birds and animals. The bacteria can be found in certain types of food such as raw meat, raw vegetables, and some processed foods. It has also been found in products such as soft cheeses, milk, coleslaw, paté and hot dogs.
Examples of High-risk Foods:
- Unpasteurized milk or foods made with such milk
- Soft Cheeses (i.e. brie, ricotta, feta, and camembert)
- Pre-prepared salads (i.e. cole slaw and fruit salad)
- Soft-serve ice cream
- Deli meat
- Raw seafood and ready-to-eat seafood such as smoked fish
Signs and Symptoms: Symptoms of Listeria can take anywhere from 3 to 70 days to appear after eating the contaminated food. Specific symptoms include:
Untreated, these symptoms can develop into more severe conditions such as meningitis (brain infection) and septicemia (blood poisoning).
Listeria is usually treated with antibiotics. Patient stool is monitored because infected individuals can potentially excrete the bacteria for several months.
To prevent Listeria in your own home, be sure to handle all ‘at-risk foods’ with caution. Be sure to practice safe food-handling methods, and safe food-preparation methods.