A deadly listeria outbreak tied to a Florida-based company’s ice cream products has sickened 25 people in nearly a dozen states and hospitalized almost all of them.
The number of illnesses, though, is likely higher, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
On Thursday, the CDC increased the number of illnesses potentially linked to Big Olaf Creamery ice cream products to 25 from 22. In total, 24 people have been hospitalized, and one person has died. Out of five people who got sick during their pregnancy, “one person’s illness resulted in a fetal loss,” according to the CDC.
After being informed of the outbreak on July 1, Big Olaf Creamery says it “immediately ceased production and distribution of the ice cream product.” The company finally issued a widespread recall for all flavors and all lots of its ice cream products on July 13.
Around the time the recall was announced, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services reported that nine of the 100 environmental samples collected had tested positive for listeria monocytogenes.
The agency ordered Big Olaf to stop using processing equipment where the listeria monocytogenes were found, which effectively shut down all operations even though the company had already done so.
The affected products were sold at Big Olaf retailers in Florida as well as in restaurants and senior homes, and one location in Fredericksburg, Ohio, according to the recall notice.
“Big Olaf is cooperating fully with regulatory authorities to successfully return all suspected products and has requested retailers to stop sales and dispose of product,” the company said. “Consumers who have purchased Big Olaf Ice Cream Products should not consume these products and dispose of them immediately.”
Healthy consumers can suffer from symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, according to the recall notice.
Listeria can result in “serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems,” the notice read. It can also cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.