Listeria outbreak is associated with ice cream, the CDC says

Federal authorities said Saturday that ice cream made in Florida has been blamed for a listeria outbreak that killed 22 people in 10 states and hospitalization in 10 states.

Big Olaf Crimari, a family-owned company in Sarasota, Florida, sells ice cream exclusively in Florida, according to the Federal Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Of those hospitalized, 10 lived outside the state and moved to Florida the previous month, the CDC said.

Infections associated with Big Olaf ice cream products have occurred in the past six months and have affected people between the ages of one and 92, the CDC said. Five fell ill during the pregnancy, one suffered a fetal loss.

Of the 17 people interviewed by the CDC, 14 said they ate ice cream. Six people reported eating ice cream made by Big Olaf or eating ice cream at a place where the brand has been supplied.

According to the company’s website, Big Olaf’s ice cream was made by Amish artisans at a crematorium near the village of Pinecraft, according to the company’s website.

Big Olaf began contacting retail locations on Friday to make recommendations against product sales, the CDC said, advising consumers to discard the remaining products from the brand. A complete withdrawal has not been issued.

Big Olaf Creamery representatives were not immediately available for comment Sunday.

Listeria bacteria cause an illness that can be fatal. Each year, about 1,600 people in the United States contract listeriosis from contaminated food.

The CDC said the infection can cause flu-like symptoms, including fever, muscle aches, vomiting and diarrhea, which usually start about two weeks after eating a bacterial diet, although the onset may vary. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says serious cases can take months to develop.

In the past, Listeria outbreaks have been associated with pasteurized milk and ice cream, undercooked chicken and raw vegetables, and according to the FDA, older adults, pregnant women and newborns and people with uncompromising immunity are particularly at risk for illness.

One out of every five people infected with listeriosis dies, according to the CDC, the infection is particularly dangerous during pregnancy, resulting in fetal damage in about 20 percent of cases.

The number of people infected with Listeria is usually higher than reported, the CDC said.

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