This Ice Cream Has Been Linked to 22 Hospitalizations and 1 Death, CDC Warns

One ice cream brand is being investigated by the agency due to a multi-state Listeria outbreak.

When enjoying a cold treat on a hot summer day, our biggest concern is usually just the potential brain freeze. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned about the dangers of Listeria contamination in various food products, and now, one of your favorite desserts might put you at risk. According to the agency, this bacteria can cause severe illness that usually starts within two weeks of eating contaminated food. The CDC has now linked one ice cream brand to a Listeria outbreak that has already caused 22 hospitalizations and one death. Read on to find out more about this deadly dessert.

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There have been a number of ice cream recalls this year.

bowls of ice cream on wooden tray

Various ice cream products have already been flagged for health concerns so far in 2022. In February, the Royal Ice Cream Company of Manchester, Connecticut, recalled specific lots of Batch Ice Cream brand ice creams after discovering that some of the products were potentially contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. Then in April, Turkey Hill Dairy of Conestoga, Pennsylvania, recalled select containers of its Chocolate Marshmallow Premium Ice Cream after a customer discovered undeclared peanuts in the dessert. Most recently, Van Leeuwen announced a voluntary recall of more than 2,000 frozen 14-ounce pints of its non-dairy Oat Milk Brown Sugar Chunk in May after it was found to also potentially contain undeclared allergens.

Now, another ice cream brand is subject to safety concerns—and there have already been major consequences for consumers.

The CDC is now warning about another harmful ice cream.

Chocolate ice cream scoop ball serving ice-cream macro close-up detail

On July 2, the CDC released a new food safety alert about a dangerous outbreak linked to one ice cream brand. According to the agency, Big Olaf Creamery in Sarasota, Florida, is being investigated over concerns that the company's ice cream products have spurred a multi-state outbreak of the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes. Out of the 17 people involved in the outbreak that have been interviewed so far, 82 percent reported remembering eating ice cream before getting sick, the CDC said. Breaking this down further, 13 remembered details about the type of ice cream they ate—including six people who reported that they ate Big Olaf Creamery brand ice cream or ate ice cream at locations that could have been serving ice cream supplied by the company.

"Products identified in this alert are part of an ongoing investigation," the CDC noted. "Public health officials continue to interview people about the foods they ate in the month before they got sick."

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This outbreak has already turned fatal.

woman in hospital bed

The CDC reported that as of June 29, a total of 23 people have been infected by this current Listeria outbreak. The illnesses have been reported throughout 10 states, although most were concentrated in Florida—as 20 people "reported living in or traveling" to this state in the month before they got sick, the CDC noted. The other affected states so far include Colorado, Kansas, Georgia, Illinois, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and Massachusetts.

According to the agency, the outbreak has spanned more than a year, with illnesses ranging from Jan. 24, 2021 through June 12, 2022. So far, 22 people have been hospitalized because of their infection, including five people who got sick while pregnant with one person experiencing fetal loss as a result of their illness. At the same time, one person from Illinois has died.

"The true number of sick people in an outbreak is likely higher than the number reported," the CDC said, noting that recent illnesses may not have been reported yet, as it takes about three to four weeks to determine if a sick person is part of a specific outbreak.

The CDC is warning consumers not to eat Big Olaf ice cream products.

senior woman opening refrigerator taking out frozen ice cream at night in kitchen

While Big Olaf Creamery has started "voluntarily contacting retail locations to recommend against selling their ice cream products until further notice," the company has not yet issued a formal recall, according to the CDC. But the agency is warning consumers who have this company's ice cream at home to throw it away, and is also alerting businesses not to serve or sell any Big Olaf ice cream products.

"Clean any areas, containers, and serving utensils that may have touched Big Olaf ice cream products," the CDC advised.

In a statement on its official Instagram account, Big Olaf noted that its involvement in the ongoing Listeria outbreak is "only speculation" right now, as the investigation is still ongoing. "Our brand has not been confirmed to be linked to these cases … nothing has been proven," the company's most recent statement reads. "We have been cooperating with the Florida Department of Health, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (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."

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