Florida ice cream may have caused the listeria outbreak earlier this year, according to the CDC

Hand Scoops Ice Cream from Fridge – Courtesy: Shutterstock – Image by Zoran Photographer

A Florida ice cream company that health officials have linked to a multistate outbreak was sued on Tuesday by the estate of an Illinois woman who passed away earlier this year after contracting listeria.

According to the lawsuit submitted in the Middle District of Florida, Big Olaf Creamery in Sarasota’s ice cream was tainted, and Mary Billman died as a result. In this case, it is claimed that Billman dined at a Big Olaf restaurant on January 18 while in Florida. She quickly fell ill and passed away on January 29.

Big Olaf’s lawyer was not listed in online court documents as someone who could comment on the lawsuit. In a statement issued on Sunday, the corporation claimed that the connection between its ice cream and the listeria outbreak was still not confirmed and is only speculation at this point. Since learning of the potential contamination, the company has been collaborating with local, state, and federal health regulators, according to the statement.

“We have been transparent and have answered all their questions and provided them with all the information requested from us, as the health and well-being of the public is our first priority,” the Big Olaf Creamery statement said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a news release on Saturday that Big Olaf Creamery has voluntarily reached out to several retail locations to recommend against selling their products. Consumers who currently have Big Olaf Creamery ice cream products at home should throw them away immediately, officials said.

Listeria is a deadly bacteria that causes unpleasant symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea, fever, and muscle aches. It can be treated with antibiotics but is especially dangerous to the elderly, pregnant women, newborns, and those with compromised immune systems.

According to CDC officials, nearly all 23 documented cases of infection in the outbreak either reside in Florida or visited there a month or so before becoming ill. Ice cream from Big Olaf Creamery is made in a central facility in Sarasota and then delivered to its outlets and other retailers.

One of the most serious types of food poisoning is listeria. Although they might start as soon as the same day, symptoms often appear one to four weeks after consuming contaminated food. According to CDC officials, the initial cases started in January of this year and persisted through June, when two people fell ill.
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