Listeria is a type of bacteria that can cause a serious infection called listeriosis. Listeriosis can affect anyone, but it is especially dangerous for pregnant people, newborns, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems. Listeriosis can cause fever, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions. In some cases, it can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, or life-threatening infection of the newborn.
Listeria can survive in cold temperatures and can easily spread to other foods and surfaces. It can also have a long incubation period, meaning that symptoms may not appear for days or even weeks after exposure. Therefore, it is important to avoid eating foods that may be contaminated with Listeria and to follow proper food safety practices.
How did the ice cream cups get contaminated?
The ice cream cups that are linked to the Listeria outbreak are produced by Real Kosher Ice Cream of Brooklyn, New York. The company sells its products under the brand name “Soft Serve On The Go” in various flavors. The ice cream cups are distributed in 20 states and internationally to Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, and the U.K.
The FDA and CDC are investigating how the ice cream cups got contaminated with Listeria. One of the people who got sick reported eating a Soft Serve On The Go ice cream cup before falling ill. Health officials then found Listeria in an ice cream cup in that person’s freezer. They are still working to confirm that the strain of Listeria found in the freezer matches the strain of Listeria that caused the outbreak.
What is being done to stop the outbreak?
Real Kosher Ice Cream has voluntarily recalled all flavors of Soft Serve On The Go 8-oz ice cream cups produced up to Aug. 4, 2023. The company has also stopped the production and distribution of the product as the FDA and the company continue their investigation.
Consumers, restaurants, and retailers are advised not to eat, sell, or serve the recalled ice cream cups and to throw them away or return them to the place of purchase for a full refund. They are also advised to use extra vigilance in cleaning and sanitizing any surfaces and containers that may have come in contact with the recalled products.
The CDC is concerned because the recalled ice cream cups were served in at least one long-term care facility, where many residents are ages 65 or older or may have weakened immune systems. This makes them more likely to get very sick from Listeria. The CDC is working with state and local health departments to identify and contact anyone who may have been exposed to the recalled products.
How can consumers protect themselves from Listeria?
The CDC recommends that consumers take the following steps to prevent listeriosis:
- Avoid eating soft cheeses unless they are made with pasteurized milk.
- Avoid eating refrigerated smoked seafood unless it is cooked or canned.
- Avoid eating deli meats and hot dogs unless they are reheated until steaming hot.
- Avoid eating raw sprouts of any kind.
- Wash fruits and vegetables before eating them.
- Keep your refrigerator at 40°F or lower and your freezer at 0°F or lower.
- Clean your refrigerator regularly and wipe up any spills immediately.
- Use separate cutting boards and utensils for raw meat and ready-to-eat foods.
- Wash your hands, utensils, and surfaces with hot soapy water before and after handling food.
If you have symptoms of listeriosis, especially if you are pregnant or have a weakened immune system, contact your healthcare provider right away.