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FDA: Listeria found in Jeni's production Kitchen

Aug. 25, 2016

FDA: Listeria found in Jeni's production kitchen

By JD Malone
The Columbus Dispatch 

Professor Ahmed Yousef was quoted as a listeria and food safety expert.

Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams is once again battling listeria, a problem that caused a huge disruption in the company's business last year.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration found listeria in the company's Michigan Avenue production kitchen this past winter after two out of 75 swabs taken in January and February came back positive, according to a letter the FDA sent to Jeni's CEO John Lowe earlier this month.

The two positive swabs were from the prep-room floor and a wash room floor, the FDA said.

No listeria was found in Jeni's products, however, and the FDA took no further action.

Jeni's shut down twice last year for more than a month in total after listeria was found in a pint of Jeni's ice cream in Nebraska and subsequently in Jeni's kitchen. A second finding of listeria on the floor in the kitchen occurred last year as well. The problem cost the company at least $2.7 million and resulted in the recall of 535,000 pounds of ice cream.

The FDA's latest findings are both good and bad news, said Ahmed Yousef, a listeria and food safety expert at Ohio State University.

"Last year, they found 20 positive samples. This year, they collected 75 and found only two positive. Whatever they have been doing is working," Yousef said.

The bad news, he said, is that the strain of listeria found this year matches the strain found last year in a pint of Jeni's ice cream on the shelf of a Whole Foods in Nebraska and at the production kitchen.

"Oh, gee, that’s not good. It is not a sporadic, random event," Yousef said. "It seems that there is a niche in the environment that is breeding this and reproducing it."

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