WASHINGTON – A second ice cream company has recalled all of its products after health officials found listeria in a sample of its frozen treats.
Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams of Ohio said on its website Thursday that it recalled its frozen products after the listeria discovery. The action follows a similar recall by Texas-based Blue Bell Creameries Monday. Blue Bell's ice cream was linked to 10 listeria illnesses in four states, including three deaths, and listeria was found in several of the company's products.
The recalls are uncommon: Listeria isn't usually found in ice cream, since the bacteria can't grow at freezing temperatures.
A spokesman for the Food and Drug Administration said the agency has no evidence, for now, that the listeria found in Jeni's ice cream and the listeria found in Blue Bell ice cream are connected.
"At this time, the FDA does not believe that the finding of listeria in one sample of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams is related to the outbreak and recall associated with Blue Bell Ice Cream," said spokesman Jeff Ventura. "We are continuing to investigate both situations and will provide updated information to consumers as we learn more."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there are no known illnesses linked to Jeni's products. In an online statement, Jeni's said it is recalling all ice creams, frozen yogurts, sorbets, and ice cream sandwiches and closing retail stores until its products are "ensured to be 100 percent safe."
The Nebraska Department of Agriculture found the listeria in a sample of Jeni's ice cream it had randomly collected at a Whole Foods in Lincoln, Nebraska.
"We will be working with our suppliers to determine if the bacteria was introduced by one of the ingredients we use," said John Lowe, the company's CEO. "We will not reopen the kitchen until we can ensure the safety of our customers."
Jeni's said the recalled ice cream was distributed in the United States to retail outlets, including food service and grocery stores, as well as online at jenis.com. The recall includes all products bearing the brand name "Jeni's."
Also Thursday, Blue Bell Creameries said it will close its facilities in Texas, Oklahoma and Alabama for intensive cleaning. The creameries will be closed next week and possibly into the following week.
The FDA said it still has open investigations in all three plants and will evaluate Blue Bell's progress in removing listeria from the plant and its products.
Blue Bell did produce some ice cream in its plants this week, but that product will be used for testing and data gathering and won't be sold to the public, the company said.
Listeria generally only affects the elderly, people with compromised immune systems, pregnant women and their newborn infants. It can cause fever, muscle aches and gastrointestinal symptoms. The worst cases are fatal.
The bacteria is found in soil and water that can be tracked into a facility or carried by animals. It can be very difficult to get rid of once it contaminates a processing facility, partly because it grows well in refrigeration. It is commonly found in processed meats, unpasteurized cheeses and unpasteurized milk, and it is sometimes found in other foods as well — listeria in cantaloupes was linked to 30 deaths in a 2011 outbreak.