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Jeni’s recalls ice cream, closes shops after potential listeria contamination

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Columbus-based ice cream company, Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams, voluntarily decided to recall all ice creams, frozen yogurts, sorbets and ice cream sandwiches and has closed down its shops. Credit: Alaina Bartel / Lantern Reporter

Columbus-based ice cream company, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, voluntarily decided to recall all ice creams, frozen yogurts, sorbets and ice cream sandwiches and has closed down its shops. Credit: Alaina Bartel / Lantern Reporter

Ohio State students should avoid Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams after a recall this week, according to a Student Life spokesman.

Jeni’s, which sells pints of ice cream on campus, has voluntarily decided to recall all ice creams, frozen yogurts, sorbets and ice cream sandwiches and has closed down its shops.

The decision was made after the Nebraska Department of Agriculture discovered a Listeria monocytogenes contamination in a randomly collected sample, a press release from the company stated on Thursday.

“We have called in experts to help us find the root cause. We will be working with our suppliers to determine if the bacteria was introduced by one of the ingredients we use. We will not reopen the kitchen until we can ensure the safety of our customers,” Jeni’s CEO John Lowe stated in the press release.

Listeria infection, or listeriosis, is a “life-threatening infection caused by eating food contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes” and people at risk include “pregnant women and their newborns, adults 65 and older, and people with weakened immune systems,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website said.

“This is a complex and ongoing multistate outbreak investigation of listeriosis illnesses occurring over several years. Several strains of Listeria monocytogenes are involved in this outbreak. Information indicated that various Blue Bell brand products are the source of this outbreak,” the website stated.

On Monday, Texas-based Blue Bell Creameries voluntarily expanded a recall to include all of its products currently on the market—including ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet and frozen snacks—because it was found that they might be contaminated with listeria.

Kristen Nordlund, spokeswoman for the CDC, said in an email that rarely, people without the risk factors can also be affected, and that symptoms vary.

“When someone has listeriosis, they usually have fever and muscle aches, sometimes preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms,” Nordlund said. “Almost everyone who is diagnosed with listeriosis has ‘invasive’ infection, which means that the bacteria spread beyond the gastrointestinal tract and symptoms can vary.”

She added that in some people, symptoms can include headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions in addition to fever and muscle aches.

Dave Isaacs, spokesman for the Office of Student Life, said Jeni’s products are sold on campus at convenience stores at Morrill and North Commons and at the 12th Avenue Bread Company.

He said students who purchased Jeni’s products should not consume them, and they can take it back to their place of purchase for a full refund.

“Under no circumstances should a student consume Jeni’s ice cream,” he said. “Jeni’s is saying publicly that they have had no reports of problems, but it’s important to exercise caution when there is a possibility of listeria, and so students should not consume any Jeni’s products at this time.”

The CDC website stated that as of Tuesday, 10 people related to this outbreak have been confirmed in four states: one in Arizona, five in Kansas, one in Oklahoma, three in Texas. There were also three deaths reported in Kansas.

Mason Monter, a first-year in aerospace engineering, said he ate a full pint of Jeni’s salty caramel ice cream on Wednesday.

“I am not sure if it is safe to eat my remaining ice cream. That is more what I am upset about than anything else. The fact that I have it,” Monter said Thursday. “I am upset about it, but I find that I try not to get upset about things I can’t change. I’ve already eaten the ice cream, so there is nothing I can change about that.”

Monter added that he does not see this incident impacting his future ice cream buying habits.

“Stuff happens and they reacted and (Jeni’s) made the right decision, ultimately,” he said. “I will keep buying Jeni’s ice cream, once they figure out the problem and fix it.”

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream is a Columbus-based business that was founded in 2002 in North Market by OSU graduate Jeni Britton Bauer.

Michael Huson contributed to this article.

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