U.S – According to a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) probe, employees at Big Olaf Creamery, the Florida-based creamery responsible for a multistate Listeria outbreak last year, had no place to wash their hands before going into the production room.
The outbreak which affected 11 states, left at least one person dead and 27 others hospitalized.
“It was observed that there was no handwash sink outside of the production area for employees to wash and sanitize hands before entering the production room,” the FDA wrote.
In addition to the absence of a written food safety plan, the FDA inquiry uncovered a number of additional problems at the ice cream producer that contributed to the outbreak.
Big Olaf Creamery is a family-owned and operated business that has been in existence for 25 years. As a way of upholding the Florida tradition, the creamery handmakes all of its ice cream in batch freezers.
Throughout its inspection, the FDA visited the facility 14 times and found that the manufacturer failed to ensure individuals were qualified to “perform their assigned duties and have records documenting food hygiene and food safety training.”
Amidst the outbreak in July last year, the FDA also discovered that the facility had been recontaminated with Listeria.
“You did not identify and establish controls related to the hazard of recontamination with environmental pathogens at your facility.
“This lack of control was evidenced by recontamination with environmental pathogens during environmental testing on 7/14/22,” the FDA wrote.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describe listeria as a bacterial infection brought on by consuming contaminated food.
According to the CDC, individuals at greatest risk include pregnant women, persons over 65, and those with weakened immune systems.
In most cases, persons who encounter these symptoms recover without treatment. Symptoms can resemble typical food poisoning symptoms, such as diarrhea and fever.
The outbreak, announced on July 2, 2022, by the CDC, has resulted in two lawsuits that have been filed against the company.
The estate of Mary Billman, a resident of Illinois, who allegedly contracted listeriosis after consuming ice cream from the defunct Big Olaf Creamery shop in the Pinecraft neighborhood in central Sarasota sued the company.
A federal judge determined Big Olaf Creamery showed a conscious disregard for her safety and ordered a compensation of US$ 4 million to the family.
According to the Florida state Agriculture Department, the bacteria was found in 10 out of 100 environmental samples collected by the agency last summer and in 16 out of 17 product samples.
The product samples were discovered several weeks after the CDC linked the creamery to a listeria outbreak in an advisory.