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What's Listeria? Jeni's Recalls Ice Cream After Potential Contamination

Jeni's ice cream has recalled all of its products after a possible Listeria contamination.

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams has voluntarily recalled of all of its ice cream products and temporarily closed its stores due to a possible Listeria contamination. WOSU talked with Columbus Health Commissioner Dr. Teresa Long about what Listeria is and how it can get into food.

A Listeria infection can be pretty miserable...fever, muscle aches, diarrhea and other stomach problems. For infants, the elderly, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems, Dr. Teresa Long said Listera can be very serious.

“It actually can lead to either a miscarriage or a premature delivery. We have seen other people develop a meningitis," she said. "And, yes, indeed, people do die.”

Long said the Listeria bacteria are found in soil and water. That’s one way it can get into fruits and vegetables. Animals also can carry it without getting sick.

Long said in the case of dairy items, pasteurization usually kills the bacteria.

“If the pasteurization isn’t fully complete then we can see contamination like this," Long said. 

A spokesperson for the CDC said, so far, there are no reports of illness in the Jeni's recall. But if there were, Dr. Long said antibiotics would be used to treat it.

Symptoms can crop up between three and 70 days after exposure to Listeria. But Long said it’s usually within a week or two.

The Nebraska Department of Agriculture discovered the contamination during a random sample collection of Jeni’s ice cream.

This recall comes after Blue Bell Creameries made a similar recall earlier this week.