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Ice Cream Manufacturer Gets Warning for Listeria Contamination

Jeni's splendid ice cream listeria

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams is fighting problems with listeria, which is a potentially deadly bacteria. According to a news report in The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent out a warning letter to the company’s chief executive saying inspectors found a dangerous form of listeria in the company’s manufacturing plant in Columbus, Ohio, which supplies the base for Jeni’s ice creams and frozen yogurts.

Regulators who inspected the facility also found what they called “significant violations” of good manufacturing practices earlier this year. Company official said the ice cream maker has sanitation, pathogen and other food-safety procedures in place.

Food Safety Issues

The Ohio company, where the problem was detected, operates ice-cream shops in seven states from Missouri to California and sells ice cream at Whole Foods Market Inc. and retailers nationwide. The FDA letter dated August 8 comes more than a year after the ice-cream maker pulled its frozen dessert products from grocery stores because of possible listeria contamination.

Jeni’s is not the only ice cream maker who has struggled with food safety issues in recent years. Blue Bell Creameries recalled all of its frozen desserts from supermarket shelves last year after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention linked its ice cream to three deaths and several illnesses. The U.S. Justice Department launched an investigation of Blue Bell’s listeria outbreak. It is not clear what determination, if any, has been made.

Preventing Listeria Infections

Listeria is a pathogen that tends to thrive in cool, wet environments. Common symptoms of the infection include weakness, muscle aches, stiff neck, fever, confusion and diarrhea. Such infections often affect the very young, the elderly, pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems. A listeria infection in pregnant women could lead to stillbirths as well.

Although there is little you can do to prevent food contamination when it occurs in a large manufacturing facility, there are things we can all do to prevent listeria infections:

• Do not consume any foods that have raw or unpasteurized milk in them.
• Wash hands, knives, countertops and cutting boards after handling and preparing uncooked foods.
• Rinse raw produce thoroughly under running tap water before eating.
• Keep uncooked meats separate from vegetables, fruits, cooked and ready-to eat foods.
• Cook raw meats, poultry and seafood to safe internal temperatures.
• Those who are at high risk for listeria infections should heat up foods such as hot dogs, cold cuts and deli meats before eating them.

If you or a loved one has suffered a listeria infection, you may be able to seek and obtain compensation for damages including medical expenses, lost wages, hospitalization costs and pain and suffering. Contact an experienced California food poisoning lawyer to obtain more information about your legal rights and options.

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