December 9, 2023

Working Cow Homemade Ice Cream Listeria Outbreak: FDA Lifts Suspension

The FDA has lifted the suspension of Working Cow Homemade, reinstating their facility registration. In October 2018, the FDA suspended the company’s registration, so the firm was forced to stop operating.

Working Cow Homemade Ice Cream Listeria Outbreak

During the months that followed, Working Cow Homemade submitted a proposed shift in business to become a warehouse distributor of ice cream products instead of a manufacturer. The company will not resume manufacturing operations.

In October 2018, that company recalled two varieties of their ice cream after one person in Florida was allegedly sickened. The FDA found a strain of Listeria monocytogenes during environmental sampling of the facility in 2017. The government did not release any more information about the ill person.

The FDA used their authority granted by the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act to suspend the facility’s registration on October 19, 2018 because the foods manufactured in that facility “may cause serious adverse health consequences.” This new notice states that “ice cream manufactured by Working Cow Homemade has been linked to three cases of listeriosis in Florida.”

Two of those listeriosis illnesses occurred in 2013 and one in 2018. Pathogen analysis of isolates taken from patients found that they were “highly related” to environmental samples taken by the FDA at the production facility. Whole genome sampling found that the isolates from patients were “genetically identical” to the Listeria monocytogenes taken from the facility in 2017 and 2018.

The company used to distributed ice cream primarily in Florida.

The FDA worked with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Florida Department of Health, and the Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services to suspend the company’s registration. An inspection revealed “insanitary conditions at and evidence of clinical cases of listeriosis linked to ice cream produced by the firm that could affect the safety of the finished products.”

All ice cream products made by Working Cow Homemade from August 29, 2017 through October 11, 2018 have been recalled. This recall expansion was announced on October 18, 2018. Consumers should not eat, retailers should not sell, and institutions should not serve these products.

Listeriosis primarily affects the elderly, the very young, and pregnant women and their newborns. Those groups account for at least 90% of Listeria infections and cause higher rates of hospitalization and death than most other foodborne pathogens.


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