Nothing says summer fun like eating ice cream especially when it's one of those entertaining Ben & Jerry’s flavors like Chunky Monkey, Cherry Garcia, or Stephen Colbert’s AmeriCone Dream. I’ll even go with more socially conscious brands like John Lennon’s Imagine Whirled Peace, although I have to admit that one reason I enjoy eating ice cream is that it distracts me from the world’s troubles for a couple minutes while I focus on not making a mess. That’s why I’m not so sure about this:
As if you didn’t feel guilty enough curled up in your bed watching “Hoarders” and downing a pint of Ben & Jerry’s at 8 p.m. on a Saturday night, now you can feel even worse. The famous ice cream brand has released a new flavor of its comfort dessert called “Save Our Swirled.” Now in addition to feeling bad about calorie counts, you can also worry about climate change while you eat your ice cream.…
“SOS” is intended to inspire ice cream eaters to support the reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to the new ice cream flavor, Ben & Jerry’s has a webpage and petition devoted to climate change education, as well as extensive details on the ice cream manufacturer’s long history of environmental leadership.
B&J says, “If it’s melted, it’s ruined” and we'd have to agree. However, we would add this: "If it’s contaminated with listeria, it’s also ruined."
Earlier this month you may have heard about the “Multistate Outbreak of Listeriosis Linked to Blue Bell Creameries Products.” Blue Bell recalled all of its products from supermarket shelves “including ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet, and frozen snacks.”
Writes the Food Poisoning Bulletin, “Blue Bell shipped contaminated products across state lines to vulnerable populations in hospitals, nursing homes, schools and retirement communities.” This is particularly disturbing because “Listeria generally only affects the elderly, people with compromised immune systems, and pregnant women and their newborn infants.”
Some have sued, like David Philip Shockley who worked at a retirement community. Mr. Shockley,
repeatedly ate single-serve Blue Bell ice cream products while he was at work. Because he suffers from ulcerative colitis, Shockley had been taking immunosuppressive medications since 2012 rendering him particularly vulnerable to food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. According to the complaint, the Listeria meningitis infection he contracted was so severe, he nearly died.
At Via Christi hospital in Wichita, five patients who were unknowingly served contaminated Blue Bell products got Listeria infections. Three of them died.
Yet this was not the only ice cream listeria outbreak this summer – actually, it’s not even summer yet! According to this Associated Press article:
A government investigation of Ohio-based Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams found inadequate testing and cleaning in its Columbus plant that had become contaminated with listeria.
The company recalled all its products last month after listeria was discovered in some pints of Jeni's ice cream, and listeria was also found in the plant. There are no known illnesses connected to the recall, and Jeni's says it is making ice cream again and re-opening its shops [last] Friday after intensive cleaning.
Let’s hope that works. Meanwhile,
The FDA also released results of 2009 and 2012 inspections of Blue Bell's plants in Texas and Oklahoma. Those inspections showed some early evidence of problems at those facilities, including condensation dripping into containers before they were filled with ice cream and residue on some food receptacles.
According to results released earlier this month from an FDA investigation, Blue Bell knew there was listeria in the Oklahoma plant from private testing as far back as two years ago.
The FDA said Blue Bell had not notified the government about the listeria findings. Companies are only required to report to the FDA if they find a "reasonable probability" that a food could make people sick.
(Idea for Ben & Jerry’s next ice cream: Yes, We Have No Listeria. At Least We Are Reasonably Probable About That.)