Recalled Sarasota ice cream had Listeria in 16 of 17 tested flavors, officials say

Florida issued a formal stop sales order for the flavors on Friday.
A label for ice cream made by Big Olaf Creamery, a Sarasota company first linked to a deadly Listeria outbreak on July 1.
A label for ice cream made by Big Olaf Creamery, a Sarasota company first linked to a deadly Listeria outbreak on July 1. [ Food and Drug Administration ]
Published July 16, 2022|Updated July 16, 2022

Sixteen flavors of Sarasota-produced ice cream linked to a deadly Listeria outbreak contained the bacteria, Florida officials have confirmed.

Big Olaf Creamery, which scientists had named as a likely source after nearly two dozen people fell ill, had already voluntarily stopped production when officials tested its equipment and ice cream for the bacteria this week.

On Friday, officials announced that of 17 flavors they tested, 16 had Listeria monocytogenes present. The results triggered an official stop sale order for the 16 flavors, according to a statement by Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services spokesperson Erin Moffet. The flavors had already been voluntarily recalled. According to documents, staff collected the samples July 9.

The news follows another set of positive test results, announced Wednesday, finding the bacteria present in 10 of 100 samples taken from equipment used to process the ice cream. “This will effectively shut down all operations at this processing facility, which had already been done voluntarily by the company,” Moffet said in a statement then.

Big Olaf Creamery lists more than 60 named flavors on its website. According to Moffet, the 16 that tested positive were: 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.

Listeria monocytogenes is a bacteria that can cause serious disease, especially if someone exposed to it is elderly or pregnant, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Mild symptoms can include nausea and muscle aches.

In the most recent outbreak, officials have found at least 12 cases in Florida and 11 more across the country. One person has died, another has had a miscarriage and 22 have been hospitalized, according to the FDA. Eighteen people interviewed by investigators reported eating ice cream beforehand. Big Olaf Creamery distributes to businesses in Florida and Ohio, the agency confirmed.

According to an FDA announcement Wednesday, Big Olaf Creamery was informed of the investigation July 1 and immediately stopped production.

Treasure Island ice cream shop Super Scoops, which carried the brand’s ice cream, told the Times it closed that day and then switched providers.

Big Olaf Creamery’s last post on Facebook and Instagram was a July 3 message that said the company was cooperating with investigators but that at the time, “nothing has been proven.”

A phone line listed for the company did not allow voicemails Saturday, and a request for comment via an online form was not immediately answered.