Food Safety

Sarasota Ice Cream Brand Linked To 10-State Listeria Outbreak

There have been 23 illnesses and one death that potentially link back to one store in Florida. Here’s what you need to know.

Originally Published: 
Woman buying bucket of strawberry ice cream from the fridge in the supermarket

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is asking people to check the ice cream they have in their freezers due to a potentially serious health concern. The ice cream brand only sells ice cream in Florida, but the illness has stretched across a number of states.

What’s going on with ice cream?

According to Axios, an ice cream brand in Florida has been linked to a listeria outbreak that has not only made several people ill across many states and has also led to one death.

The CDC’s reported on July 2nd that their investigations following 23 reported illnesses, as well as one death linked to a listeria outbreak, was linked to the Big Olaf Creamery of Sarasota.

Big Olaf Creamery is contacting stores that sell its ice cream voluntarily to recommend they pull the ice cream from their shelves. A recall has not yet been issued.

The ice cream brand is only sold in Florida, however, people from several other states — including Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania — fell ill and were reported as “living in or traveling not Florida in the month before they got sick.”

Big Olaf said in a statement to The Associated Press that there has not yet been a link determined between the two brands.

In a July 3rd statement on their Facebook page, the company stated: “We have been cooperating with the Florida Department of Health, FDACS, and the FDA as soon as we were informed about the situation. 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.”

According to Time, the estate of Mary Billman, the Illinois woman who died earlier from listeria infection, has filed a federal lawsuit against Big Olaf Creamery of Sarasota. The lawsuit claims she died after eating contaminated product from the creamery, that she visited the store on January 18 and after becoming ill, she died on January 29.

What should you do if you have the ice cream?

The CDC is asking consumers who have any of the brand's ice cream at home to "throw away any remaining product." You should also sanitize any areas, containers, surfaces, or kitchen utensils that might have come into contact with the ice cream. Businesses, which are being voluntarily contacted by Big Olaf Creamery, should sanitize as well.

What are the symptoms of a listeria infection?

According to the CDC, Listeria is one of the more severe infections that can be linked to foods, including ice cream. The agency estimates that 1,600 people get listeriosis each year, and about 260 die as a result.

Symptoms can include fever, flu-like symptoms, confusion, headaches, loss of balance, seizures, and nausea or vomiting.

And, although anyone can get sick from listeria infection, those most likely to have more serious outcomes include newborns, adults over 65, pregnant people, and people with weakened immune systems.

This article was originally published on