December 4, 2016

Jeni’s Ice Cream: You Fight Listeria By Constantly Searching For It

Blueberry, ice, food, blue, purple, background, ball, white, blueberries, ice cream, sherbet, ice ball, round, fruity, fruit pieces, dark red, a frosty real, optional, isolated, ice-cream, icecream, violet, fruit, blueberry ice cream, of, top, top view birds eye view, single, alone, real, sweet, scoop, species, kind, flavor Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream has posted on its website a response to an FDA warning letter made public this week.  The letter states environmental samples taken near food and food contact surfaces during an inspection in January and February of this year were positive for Listeria.[/caption]

The inspection was part of a follow-up process after a Listeria recall  in 2015.  Jeni’s issued a recall for all of its products and temporarily ceased production in April 2015 after the Nebraska Department of Agriculture found Listeria in ice cream it tested as part of a routine product sampling program. No illnesses were reported in connection with the ice cream.

“We received a Warning Letter from the FDA following their January inspection of our facility. We are happy to get to the next stage with the FDA, and we appreciate that the FDA went to the unusual step of noting in the letter the significant work and changes we made since we first learned of a Listeria issue back in April 2015. We have seen some initial news coverage of the letter, and thought it would help to put it in context,” the response begins.

The company then makes four points. One, that “Listeria is combatted by constantly searching for it.”  By looking for it, you can find it and eradicate it before it has a chance to spread, the company states.

Two, Jeni’s has taken more than 2,000 environmental swabs from its facility in the last year and  “Listeria has never been detected on a food contact surface, or in Zone 2 (the immediate area around food contact surfaces). We have detected Listeria on the floor between our dish cleaning room and preparation area in the last year as noted in the letter, and immediately took corrective/preventive actions and followed our protocols to do what a strong environmental program does: prevent its spread to Zone 2 or food contact surfaces.”

Three, the company has a test and hold process. Every batch of ice cream is tested and held until results confirm there is no Listeria present. “We instituted this test-and-hold procedure when we reopened a year ago and we have not had a single batch test positive for Listeria. We believe our product testing to be the most thorough in the nation.”

And four, finding Listeria in non-food contact surfaces “is s not in any way abnormal in the industry or indicative of an outbreak of Listeria,” the company states. This final point was also made by Blue Bell Creameries when Listeria was found in its facilities one year after the company was linked to a deadly Listeria outbreak.

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