Sarasota ice cream tied to listeria outbreak. Extra dangers for pregnant women, hospital warns

Screengrab via Facebook/CDC
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

A deadly outbreak of listeria has been traced to Big Olaf Creamery in Sarasota County, Florida, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Saturday.

The bacteria can cause food poisoning symptoms as well as severe illness and death. Local healthcare providers are warning of the extra dangers of the outbreak to pregnant women, who are at higher risk for infection.

“The infection can be passed to unborn babies, causing miscarriage, stillbirths and premature labor,” SMHCS spokesperson Kim Savage said in an email.

Adults age 65 and older and people with weakened immune systems are also at higher risk for severe infections.

“Other people can be infected with Listeria, but they rarely become seriously ill,” the CDC says.

So far, the CDC has identified 23 illnesses, 22 hospitalizations and one death that are tied to the listeria outbreak. It has impacted people in 10 states, most of whom had recently traveled to Florida.

The first known illness happened in Jan. 2021, the CDC’s investigation found, and illnesses have continued through June of this year.

What consumers should do

A recall has not been issued, but consumers are advised to throw away any Big Olaf ice cream products they have at home. The ice cream is only sold in Florida. “Among 10 people with information who did not live in Florida, 8 traveled to Florida in the month before getting sick,” the CDC said.

What pregnant people should do

Pregnant people who may have been affected by the outbreak should contact a healthcare provider right away if they experience Listeria symptoms of fever, fatigue, flu-like symptoms and muscle aches, the CDC says.

Symptoms of an infection in pregnant people are usually mild, and some never have symptoms. Severe disease in the mother is rare, the CDC says. Infections are treated with antibiotics.

What other high risk people should do

People 65 and older and individuals with weakened immune systems should also contact a healthcare provider if they experience Listeria symptoms.

Symptoms of a severe infection in non-pregnant people include: “headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions, in addition to fever and muscle aches,” the CDC says.

What retailers should do

Big Olaf representatives are voluntarily contacting retailers to advise against selling any Big Olaf products until further notice, the CDC said.

Businesses are also advised to “clean and disinfect any areas and equipment that may have touched Big Olaf ice cream products, including ice cream scoops and other serving utensils.”

About Big Olaf Creamery

Big Olaf Creamery, open since 1982, has its headquarters in an industrial park off of Cattlemen Road in Sarasota County.

‘The ice cream is made at a local creamery near Sarasota’s Amish village of Pinecraft,” Big Olaf’s website says. “Every tub of Big Olaf Ice Cream is hand mixed with the finest ingredients and is then churned in batch freezers by local Amish Craftsmen.”

There are also five Big Olaf ice cream parlor locations. Three shops are located in Sarasota, as well as a shop in Lakewood Ranch and a shop in Venice.