CDC links mysterious listeria outbreak to ice cream at Big Olaf Creamery in Florida

A Florida-based ice cream brand has been linked to a mysterious and deadly listeria outbreak with 23 illnesses reported in 10 states and one death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Why is this important: In its investigation, the CDC links Sarasota’s Big Olaf Creamery to the outbreak and advises consumers who have the brand’s ice cream at home to “throw away any remaining product.”

  • People in 10 different states have fallen ill from the outbreak, including Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, Axios Herb Engraving reports.
  • Big Olaf Creamery ice cream is only sold in Florida, the CDC said, but the federal agency said 20 of those infected “reported living or traveling in Florida in the month before becoming ill.”
  • The CDC said it is continuing to investigate and the number of cases is likely higher.

What is happening: No recall has been issued, but the CDC said on July 1, Big Olaf Creamery “voluntarily began contacting retail outlets recommending that they not sell their ice cream products.”

  • Consumers who have the brand’s ice cream were also urged to discard it and clean “all areas, containers and serving utensils that may have touched Big Olaf ice cream products.”

By the numbers: Of the 17 people surveyed by public health officials, 14 (82%) said they ate ice cream.

  • Six said they ate the Big Olaf Creamery brand or “ate ice cream from places that might have been provided by Big Olaf Creamery,” the CDC said.

Meanwhile, in a post on its Facebook page on Sunday, the ice cream brand said “this is just speculation as this is an ongoing investigation.”

What they say : “Our brand has not been confirmed to be linked to these cases, not sure why only Big Olaf is mentioned and targeted,” the Facebook post read.

  • “The initial report we received from the Florida Department of Health on Friday July 1 indicated that there were 23 reported cases, with the first reported being in January 2021. 6 of the 23 patients mentioned consuming Big Olaf ice cream , but nothing has been proven,” the company said in the post.
  • Big Olaf said he was “cooperating with the Florida Department of Health, FDACS and FDA as soon as we were made aware of the situation.”

  • The creamery has been family-owned and operated for 25 years, according to its website, and does “drop-shipping throughout most of Florida” and serves “ice cream parlors, retirement homes, restaurants, fairs and supermarkets with a full range of high-end frozen products.”
Listeria outbreaks are often linked to dairy products and fruits and vegetables

Listeriosis is considered a serious infection often caused by contaminated food, according to the CDC.

  • Symptoms often begin within two weeks of eating contaminated food.
  • The most common symptoms are fever and flu-like symptoms.
  • Other symptoms include headaches, stiff neck, loss of balance, and confusion.
Listeria Symptoms

And after: The CDC recommends calling your healthcare provider if you have symptoms.

  • You should also write down everything you ate before you got sick, the CDC said.

Herb Scribner contributed to this report.

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