Investigation Details

Posted August 4, 2022

August 4, 2022

The Florida Department of Health, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, CDC, public health and regulatory officials in several other states, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are collecting different types of data to investigate a multistate outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections linked to ice cream.

Epidemiologic Data

Since the last update on July 13, 2022, two more illnesses have been reported. As of August 2, 2022, a total of 25 people infected with the outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes have been reported from 11 states (see map). Thirteen sick people are residents of Florida and ten reported traveling to Florida before getting sick. Illnesses started on dates ranging from January 24, 2021, to June 24, 2022 (see timeline).

Sick people range in age from less than one to 92 years, with a median age of 72, and 56% are male. Of 25 people with information available, 24 have been hospitalized. One death in a person who was not pregnant has been reported from Illinois. Five people got sick during their pregnancy, and one person’s illness resulted in a fetal loss.

The true number of sick people in an outbreak is likely higher than the number reported, and the outbreak may not be limited to the states with known illnesses. This is because some people recover without medical care and are not tested for Listeria. In addition, recent illnesses may not yet be reported as it usually takes 3 to 4 weeks to determine if a sick person is part of an outbreak.

Public health officials continue to interview people about the foods they ate before they got sick. Of the 21 people interviewed, all (100%) reported eating ice cream. Among 17 people who remembered details about the type of ice cream they ate, 12 reported eating Big Olaf Creamery brand ice cream or eating ice cream at locations that might have been supplied by Big Olaf Creamery. Eight sick people were identified as part of three illness clusters in this outbreak. An illness cluster is defined as two or more people who do not live in the same household who report eating food from the same retail location before getting sick. If several unrelated sick people ate food from the same retail location, it suggests that the contaminated food item was served or sold there. All three illness clusters were at retail locations that sell Big Olaf Creamery ice cream.

Laboratory Data

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) collected samples of ice cream and environmental samples from the ice cream production area at the Big Olaf Creamery facility in Sarasota, Florida. FDACS also performed whole genome sequencing on these samples and the Florida Department of Health identified the outbreak strain in the samples collected from the ice cream and the environment.

Public Health Actions

On July 13, 2022, Big Olaf Creamery LLC recalled all flavors, lots, and expiration dates of Big Olaf brand ice cream through June 30, 2022. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) has issued a stop order and Big Olaf Creamery LLC is not currently producing ice cream.

Previous Updates

The Florida Department of Health, CDC, public health and regulatory officials in several other states, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are collecting different types of data to investigate a multistate outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections linked to ice cream.

Epidemiologic Data

No new illnesses have been reported since the initial announcement on June 30, 2022. As of July 8, 2022, a total of 23 people infected with the outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes have been reported from 10 states (see map). Twelve sick people are residents of Florida and nine reported traveling to Florida before getting sick.  Illnesses started on dates ranging from January 24, 2021, through June 12, 2022 (see timeline).

Sick people range in age from less than 1 to 92 years, with a median age of 72, and 52% are male. Twenty-two people (96%) have been hospitalized. One death in a person who was not pregnant has been reported from Illinois. Five people got sick during their pregnancy, and one person’s illness resulted in a fetal loss.

The true number of sick people in an outbreak is likely higher than the number reported, and the outbreak may not be limited to the states with known illnesses. In addition, recent illnesses may not yet be reported as it usually takes 3 to 4 weeks to determine if a sick person is part of an outbreak.

Public health officials continue to interview people about the foods they ate before they got sick. Of the 18 people interviewed, all (100%) reported eating ice cream. Among 18 people who remembered details about the type of ice cream they ate, 10 reported eating Big Olaf Creamery brand ice cream or eating ice cream at locations that might have been supplied by Big Olaf Creamery. Seven ill people were identified as part of three illness clusters in this outbreak. An illness cluster is defined as two or more people who do not live in the same household who report eating food from the same retail location before becoming ill. If several unrelated ill people ate food from the same retail location, it suggests that the contaminated food item was served or sold there. All three illness clusters were at retail locations that sell Big Olaf Creamery ice cream.

This investigation is ongoing to determine if any additional products are linked to illnesses.

Public Health Actions

CDC is concerned that Big Olaf Creamery ice cream could still be in people’s homes or available for sale in stores in Florida. CDC recommends people not eat, and restaurants and retailers not serve or sell Big Olaf Creamery ice cream. Consumers should throw away any remaining products they have at home.

The Florida Department of Health, CDC, public health and regulatory officials in several other states, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are collecting different types of data to investigate a multistate outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections.

As a result of this investigation, Big Olaf Creamery in Sarasota, FL, is voluntarily contacting retail locations to recommend against selling their ice cream products. Consumers who have Big Olaf Creamery brand ice cream at home should throw away any remaining product.

Epidemiologic Data

Public health officials continue to interview people about the foods they ate in the month before they got sick. Of the 17 people interviewed, 14 (82%) reported eating ice cream. Among 13 people who remembered details about the type of ice cream they ate, six reported eating Big Olaf Creamery brand ice cream or eating ice cream at locations that might have been supplied by Big Olaf Creamery.

Products identified in this alert are part of an ongoing investigation.

Public Health Actions

On July 1, 2022, Big Olaf Creamery in Sarasota, FL, voluntarily began contacting retail locations to recommend against selling their ice cream products. Consumers who have Big Olaf Creamery brand ice cream at home should throw away any remaining product.

CDC, public health and regulatory officials in several states, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), are collecting different types of data to identify the food source of a multistate outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections. The investigation has not yet identified a food linked to illness.

Epidemiologic Data

As of June 29, 2022, a total of 23 people infected with the outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes have been reported from 10 states (see map). Of the 22 people with information, 20 sick people reported living in or traveling to Florida in the month before they got sick, although the significance of this is still under investigation. Illnesses started on dates ranging from January 24, 2021, through June 12, 2022 (see timeline).

Sick people range in age from less than 1 to 92 years, with a median age of 72, and 52% are male. Twenty-two people (96%) have been hospitalized. Five people got sick during their pregnancy, and one illness resulted in a fetal loss. One death has been reported from Illinois.

The true number of sick people in an outbreak is likely higher than the number reported, and the outbreak may not be limited to the states with known illnesses. In addition, recent illnesses may not yet be reported as it usually takes 3 to 4 weeks to determine if a sick person is part of an outbreak.

Public health officials are interviewing people about the foods they ate in the month before they got sick. So far, a common food item has not been identified.

Laboratory Data

Public health investigators are using the PulseNet system to identify illnesses that may be part of this outbreak. CDC PulseNet manages a national database of DNA fingerprints of bacteria that cause foodborne illnesses. DNA fingerprinting is performed on bacteria using a method called whole genome sequencing (WGS).

WGS showed that bacteria from sick people’s samples are closely related genetically. This means that people in this outbreak likely got sick from the same food.

Public Health Actions

Until we learn more, CDC is advising people at higher risk for severe Listeria illness to contact their healthcare provider if they have any symptoms of a Listeria infection.

Healthcare providers should report listeriosis illnesses to their health department.