Listeria likes processing lines; Jeni’s pint filler tests positive for Listeria

Earlier today, in a talk about Listeria and produce, my friend Sophia Kathariou told folks at the NC Food Safety and Defense Task Force annual meeting that processing or packing facilities, not production, looks s to be a common link in outbreaks. Processing and packing lines are full of hard to reach places where Listeria can establish a niche.

Like a nozzle or hose on an ice cream pint filler.

According to the Columbus Dispatch, that’s where Jeni’s believes their Listeria issue arose.The listeria found at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams’ plant was on the spout of one of its pint-filling machines.Jenis-Splendid-Ice-Creams-recalls-all-products-closes-shops-over-listeria-fears

The company plans to spend at least $200,000 to rework its manufacturing line at its Michigan Avenue plant to ensure listeria never visits again, according to a press release.

“We will spend whatever it takes,” said CEO John Lowe, in a statement today.

Jeni’s tested other pints and its production kitchen. Listeria was found in at least one other flavor and at the plant. The machine on which the listeria was found is used only to fill pints, not the large bins, known as buckets, used at scoop shops.

The shops will remain closed, though, while Jeni’s works through its plant revisions.

The company has estimated that in all, it will destroy about 535,000 pounds of product. The recall will cost more than $2.5 million, Lowe said.

The biggest change at the production kitchen announced today is that fresh produce and vegetables, a hallmark of Jeni’s flavors, will be processed at a separate location. Jeni’s did not say where.

The company’s entire production staff is training this week on new safety procedures. The company plans to go above state and federal requirements for food safety, Lowe said. Jeni’s still doesn’t know when it will reopen. 


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About Ben Chapman

Dr. Ben Chapman is a professor and food safety extension specialist at North Carolina State University. As a teenager, a Saturday afternoon viewing of the classic cable movie, Outbreak, sparked his interest in pathogens and public health. With the goal of less foodborne illness, his group designs, implements, and evaluates food safety strategies, messages, and media from farm-to-fork. Through reality-based research, Chapman investigates behaviors and creates interventions aimed at amateur and professional food handlers, managers, and organizational decision-makers; the gate keepers of safe food. Ben co-hosts a biweekly podcast called Food Safety Talk and tries to further engage folks online through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and, maybe not surprisingly, Pinterest. Follow on Twitter @benjaminchapman.