For all of your ice cream lovers out there, we have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that, the latest ice cream recalls relating to Listeria monocytogenes are most likely not the fault of the ice cream manufacturers. However, if you are a cookie dough lover – in or out of ice cream – I have some sad news for you. It is the cookie dough to blame.
After the 2015 Listeria outbreak relating to Blue Bell last year, reading more woes about Listeria in Blue Bell ice cream was enough to cause concern. However, since the initial Blue Bell recall this year, there have now been three other ice cream companies who have recalled their products due to Listeria monocytogenes contamination – Blue Bunny, Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream Company, Inc., and Nestle USA. It is unknown at this time if cookie dough or related products is the culprit in the Nestle USA recall.
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The Current Recalls
Blue Bell Creameries
To recap, Blue Bell Creameries issued a recall in late September 2016 for its Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and Cookie Two Step ice cream flavors. The products involved in the recall, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and Cookie Two Step, were sold in half gallons and pints by retailers in ten states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. You can identify the product by the code date at the bottom of the carton. On October 10, 2016, Blue Bell expanded its recall to include additional flavors: Blue Bell Blue Monster, Blue Bell Chocolate Chip Cookie, and Blue Bell Krazy Kookie Dough. Blue Bell sold these flavors in three gallon packages to food service outlets. The company distributed these flavors in the following states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. Blue Bell commented this week that the expansion comes soon after Aspen Hill, Inc. informed them of additional affected cookie lots made between February 2, 2016 and September 7, 2016. Blue Bell is also adamant that their recall is proceeding in cooperation with the Food and Drug Administration. For more information on Blue Bell’s recalls, please visit the Food and Drug Administration here or Blue Bell’s website.
Wells Enterprises, Inc., the corporation behind Blue Bunny ice cream, announced late yesterday that it commenced a voluntary recall of two lots of its Blue Bunny Hoppin’ Holidoodle ice cream. The company, based out of Le Mars, Iowa, has not issued a recall notice on its website at the time of this post, but did make it public on its Facebook page early this week. Furthermore, the company appears to be relatively quiet concerning the recall and contends that it is a “seasonal holiday flavor with very limited geographic distribution in six states.”
The recalled products bear the “best buy date” of February 13, 2018 or February 14, 2018 and are contained in the 46 ounces packages. Wells Enterprises, Inc. only distributed this flavor to six states – Nebraska, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Arizona, and Texas. You can visit the Food and Drug Administration’s notification here for more information.
Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream Company
Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream Company, Inc., a family-owned Madison, Wisconsin company, joined in on the recalls yesterday. The recalled flavors, Cookie Dough, Heaps of Love, Peanut Butter Cookie Dough, Sticks & Stones, Bakes Bear, and Yippee Skippee, bear code dates ranging from November 8, 2017 – December 29, 2017. The company sold the products in three gallon packages and pints.
The company was quick to point out that the recall was initiated due to Aspen Hills, Inc.’s food safety issues, and that they are recalling “any product that came in contact with [Aspen Hills, Inc.’s] cookie dough pieces.” The company also noted that they personally conducted independent testing of their products, and Listeria monocytogenes was not isolated in their results. Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream Company, Inc.’s press release also contained a stern promise to its consumers,
“As a company we have a rigorous food safety and vendor control program to ensure that our ingredients are treated with the highest standard of safety. Moving forward we will be reviewing the changes made at Aspen Hills to ensure all future product we receive is handled and documented properly in accordance with the high requirements of safety we hold for our ice cream.”
It All Comes Down to Cookie Dough and a Third Party Supplier
With the exception of Nestle USA, all of the ice cream companies involved in the recall have one common factor. They all use the same third party cookie dough supplier, Aspen Hills, Inc. Aspen Hills, Inc., which operates www.cookiedough.com, is a gourmet frozen cookie dough manufacturer who primarily works with school or organization-based fundraisers. The family owned and operated company prides itself on a daily production capacity of 180,000 pounds of product per day.
Aspen Hills, Inc. supplied chocolate chip cookie dough to Blue Bell Creameries and Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream Company, Inc. and snickerdoodle cookie dough to Wells Enterprises, Inc. and Blue Bunny. Further information from the company shows that they sold cookie dough to about 27 different food manufacturers, and that it is up to those other companies to determine if their products need recalled. There are most likely more recalls on their way. Aspen Hills Inc.’s spokesperson Jon Austin issued a series of statements to the Associated Press this week. He stated,
“the company found lapses in its food safety system – such as inadequate documentation and failure to wear proper uniforms – that could have allowed the product to become contaminated … [a]ny one of these issues is a matter we would take seriously, but collectively they represent to us an unacceptable lapse in the standards our customers – and we – expect.”
As of the date of this post, Aspen Hills, Inc. has recalled 22,000 cases of cookie dough, manufactured between July 15, 2016 and September 30, 2016.
How You Can Keep You and Your Family Safe
The above companies and the Food and Drug Administration recommend immediate disposal of any recalled ice cream flavors and that the public not eat any of the recalled products. If you or someone you love is showing signs and symptoms of Listeria monocytogenes poisoning, like fever, headaches, upset stomach, nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting, muscle aches, and/or diarrhea, it is best to seek immediate medical attention. Those who are pregnant or suspect that they may be pregnant are especially urged to see a physician.
At this time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not reported any illness related to any of the current ice cream recalls.