Florida Ice Cream Company Issues Recall Over Link to Listeria Outbreak

Jessica Rendall Wellness Writer
Jessica is a writer on the Wellness team with a focus on health news. Before CNET, she worked in local journalism covering public health issues, business and music.
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Jessica Rendall
3 min read
An illustration of the bacteria that causes Listeria infection
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What's happening

Big Olaf ice cream has been linked to a listeria outbreak that's sickened at least 23 people and resulted in one person's death. The CDC's investigation is ongoing.

Why it matters

Listeria infection can be serious for people who are pregnant, older adults, newborn babies and those with weakened immune systems.

What's next

If you have ice cream made by Big Olaf Creamery, throw it away. The ice cream brand is sold in Florida and one location in Ohio.

Big Olaf Creamery, which sells ice cream in Florida and one location Fredericksburg, Ohio, issued a recall of its ice cream products last week over concerns they may be linked to a listeria outbreak that's sickened at least 23 people and resulted in one person's death.

All flavors and lots with an expiration date through June 30 are included in the recall and should be thrown away, the company said in an announcement posted to the US Food and Drug Administration's website. 

The investigation is ongoing, but 10 out of the 18 people who reported eating ice cream before they were sick said they had Big Olaf or ate ice cream at locations that may have served the company's dessert, according to the recall, which cited epidemiological information from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Florida health officials. No cases of illness were reported to the company or to retailers that sell Big Olaf products, the company said, adding that it's continuing to work with the FDA. Consumers with any questions should contact Big Olaf at 941-365-7483.

A Big Olaf ice cream label

A Big Olaf ice cream label. The recalled products were sold at different retailers, restaurants and senior homes in Florida as well as one location in Fredericksburg, Ohio.

Big Olaf Creamery via the US Food and Drug Administration

Listeria infection, or listeriosis, is caused by a bacteria that's usually foodborne, and it typically causes illness in older adults, those with weakened immune systems, pregnant people and newborn babies. Previously, the listeria outbreak was linked to Florida as 20 out of the 22 affected people with information either lived in or reported travel to the state. Illnesses were reported from January 2021 to June 2022 across 10 states. Five of the people who got sick were pregnant, the CDC said, and one case resulted in fetal loss.

The true number of listeriosis cases is likely higher, the CDC said, and newer cases probably haven't been detected yet because it takes three to four weeks to link an illness to an outbreak. 

Listeriosis is one of the most serious kinds of foodborne disease, according to the World Health Organization. And unlike other bacteria that cause food poisoning, the listeria bacteria can survive in low temperatures in the refrigerator. Foods with a long shelf-life in the fridge (like deli meats) and other foods that haven't been cooked have been associated with listeria in the past, the WHO said. It's also found in nature in soil and water. 

Listeria that only causes mild, intestinal illness like diarrhea and vomiting is rarely diagnosed, according to the CDC, though symptoms usually start within 24 hours of eating an infected food. People who get sick with severe, invasive listeria infection (when it spreads beyond the gut) are typically people with weakened immune systems, older adults, newborn babies and pregnant people. Signs that it has spread typically develop within two weeks of eating an infected food, but symptoms can show up earlier or later. 

Pregnant people with listeria infection usually only experience flu-like symptoms like fever, muscle aches and fatigue, but the infection can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth and premature delivery or infection in newborns. That's why health care providers sometimes advise people to avoid some foods (like soft cheeses) during pregnancy. Symptoms of listeria in people who aren't pregnant include headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions, in addition to fever and muscle aches. 

If you're at higher risk for listeria and think you have symptoms, call a health care provider, especially if you've recently traveled to Florida. 

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.