Ice cream recalls leave summer treats on thin ice

A recall affecting 13 brands of ice cream and frozen desserts, including popular names like Hershey’s, has been initiated by Totally Cool Inc. due to potential contamination with listeria.

Cindy Hazen, Contributing writer

July 2, 2024

2 Min Read

At a Glance

  • Totally Cool has recalled 69 ice cream products nationally due to potential listeria contamination.
  • Popular brands such as Jeni’s, Friendly’s and Hershey’s are included in the recall.
  • Listeria is an environmental pathogen that can thrive in cold manufacturing environments.

The dog days of summer call for cold, sweet treats, but be forewarned. A massive recall of 13 brands of ice cream and frozen desserts is in full swing. The products, manufactured by Totally Cool, Inc. of Owings Mills, Maryland, may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. To date, neither the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention nor the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have reported any illnesses associated with the recall.

Sixty-nine nationally distributed ice cream products are currently subject to recall. Beloved brands such as Jeni’s, Friendly’s and Hershey’s are on the list. The range of products extends from various ice cream flavors to ice cream cakes, cones and sandwiches as well as sorbets and gelatos.

Totally Cool, Inc. has ceased manufacturing and distributing the affected products. The company states none of their other products are affected by this recall.

The diversity of recalled products suggests listeria contamination existed within the co-manufacturing facility. According to FDA guidance, ice cream does not support the growth of L. monocytogenes, but it can be contaminated with it. Listeria is an environmental pathogen that thrives and multiplies in refrigerated temperatures. Once a niche becomes established within a facility, it can quickly spread. The ability to create biofilms enhances the pathogen’s survivability.

“What’s challenging with eliminating biofilms is that sometimes biofilms can be difficult to detect and invisible to the naked eye, so it is important to use the right techniques to find and eliminate the sources of contamination,” Angela Anandappa, Ph.D., founding executive director and CEO of the Alliance for Advanced Sanitation, said. “Finding and proactively eliminating listeria from ecological niches within the facility is crucial to preventing their presence in the ice cream. A robust sanitation program will do just that.”

Listeria-tainted ice cream can have grave consequences. Three people died in a listeriosis outbreak that was linked to two Blue Bell Creameries production facilities from 2010 to 2015. Positive listeria samples were also found in a third plant, but no cases were linked to products made within that manufacturing environment. The company’s president was charged with conspiracy and fraud for concealing information about the outbreak. In 2023, he accepted a plea deal and agreed to pay a $100,000 fine and not serve jail time. Blue Bell paid more than  $19 million in fines, forfeitures and civil settlement payments.

About the Author(s)

Cindy Hazen

Contributing writer

Cindy Hazen has more than 25 years of experience developing seasonings, dry blends, beverages and more. Today, when not writing or consulting, she expands her knowledge of food safety as a food safety officer for a Memphis-based produce distributor.

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