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Credit: Muyao Shen / Assistant Photo Editor
Credit: Muyao Shen / Assistant Photo Editor

Jeni’s rising up after listeria scare

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Jeni’s fans will be able to get their hands on pints for the first time in six months.

After finding bacterial listeria in its ice cream twice this spring, Jeni Britton Bauer, founder of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, said she hopes she will never have to confront a similar situation.  

“It was the summer of solving problems, and actually, in a weird way, I felt like me and everybody on my team has been kind of training for it our whole lives,” she said. “And, hopefully, we’ll never have to use our training so deeply again.”

Jeni’s “Scoop Shops” have been open since June 20, but the company is just now in the process of redistributing pints to its vendors locally and across the country.  Experience Leader Ryan Morgan said that pints will be available in local stores by the end of the month.

The online store will open on Nov. 2 for the first time since the recall as well.

Bauer said the company lost 255 tons of ice cream and several weeks’ worth of business because of the incidents in the spring. The company ended up testing hundreds of batches of ice cream, which represented thousands of pints, and in the end it found listeria in two pints.

Bauer said she still doesn’t know the full extent of the losses.

“I don’t have a full number, and that’s partially because that’s how I think,” she said. “I sort of feel like that’s done, we’ve got to figure that out and we’ve just got to get back in the game. But it was not insignificant.”

Bauer said that the company now has a plan in place to prevent such a loss if something happens in regards to the safety of the company’s products again.

“I think there’s a lot of things really changing and shape-shifting in food safety right now, and we’re really excited about that,” she said. “I think we were doing a pretty stellar job, actually, before, and I think we’re now at the top of the game when it comes to safety and that’s something I’m very proud of.”

Another thing Bauer said she is excited about is the new pint packaging, which will be made of paper and feature a new design for each season.

Morgan said that the company is “still in conversation” with Ohio State and does not have a timeline for when pints will be available on campus again.  

Despite never having graduated from OSU, Bauer still considers it her alma mater. She said that one day in 1996, she was craving ice cream so much that she walked out of a figure drawing class and decided to go make it, and she never looked back.

Even with cold weather coming, the company hopes to keep customers interested in buying ice cream. By mid-November, Jeni’s will be releasing the 2015 Holiday Collection of five flavors. Morgan said Jeni’s will be bringing back dark chocolate peppermint and pumpkin flavors, and the company is introducing a new churro flavor, as well as two more flavors to be announced.

Jeni’s is now in its 13th year of business, but Bauer insists that the mission statement has stayed the same since the beginning: “Make better ice creams and bring people together.”

In regards to the company’s legacy, Morgan thinks that everything that happened with listeria and the recall will become a positive thing.

“I think 10 years from now, when people are writing about our company and the dents that we made in the universe, the recall that we had this past April … will be cited as the defining moments in the evolution into one of the next great American brands,” Morgan said.

With her name at the forefront of the company, Bauer realizes that everything that happens, good or bad, will have an effect on her reputation.

“It’s actually my reputation that I will have forever, and that I take very seriously,” she said. “Naming your company after yourself is actually the opposite of an ego thing to do. In a way it sort of keeps you responsible for everything that happens and that’s a good reminder.”

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