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Listeria found inside Big Olaf ice cream facility, FDA official recall issued

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Posted at 9:54 PM, Jul 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-15 20:53:28-04

SARASOTA, Fla. — The state has now shut down the production of a Sarasota ice cream company after listeria was found inside their processing facility.

On Wednesday the FDA announced an official recall of Big Olaf Creamery products.

This comes 11 days after the CDC put out a warning that 23 listeria cases, spanning over the last year and a half, were linked to the Sarasota ice cream company.

But even after the CDC’s warning, some Big Olaf locations remained open and continued selling their ice cream.

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Bill Marler, who has been a food safety attorney for 30 years and specializes in listeria cases, said he’s never seen anything like it.
"I have no idea how many people ate ice cream on the Fourth of July weekend, unknowingly that this facility was under investigation, I just think that’s crazy," said Marler.

Marler is representing the family of 79-year-old Mary Billman who they say died from listeria after eating Big Olaf's ice cream at a Sarasota location in January.

"That whole part is very concerning to me that the state didn’t jump on this earlier," said Marler.

Nearly one week after the CDC’s warning, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services spokesperson Erin Moffet said on July 7 they collected 100 environmental samples inside the Big Olaf facility where ice cream is made. She said out of the 100 surface area samples, nine came back positive for listeria.

On July 15, Moffet issued the following update:

“The results from product sampling taken from the Big Olaf production facility last week by FDACS found that 16 of the 17 flavors tested were positive for Listeria monocytogenes (L. mono). This includes: Blueberry Cheesecake, Butter Pecan, Cherry Cordial, Chocolate, Chocolate Chip, Coconut, Coconut Almond Joy, Cookie Dough, Cookies & Cream, Kahlua Krunch, Mint Chip, Pistachio, Plantation Praline, Superman, Vanilla, and White Chocolate Raspberry. With these results, FDACS is currently issuing formal stop sales on the 16 products where L. mono was found, which were previously part of a voluntary recall. Our department continues to work closely with our state and federal partners on this investigation and enforcement of the stop sale.”

She said the company has stopped production at the facility and stopped selling Big Olaf ice cream.

We reached out to Big Olaf Creamery for comment and did not hear back.