Employees had no place to wash hands at ice cream factory due to listeria outbreak, FDA says

Employees at Big Olaf Creamery, a creamery in Florida for a listeria outbreak in several states last year, had no place to wash their hands before they entered the manufacturing facility, according to an investigation by the Food and Drug Administration. The a flash killed at least one person and hospitalized 27 others in 11 states.

“It was observed that there was no hand basin outside the manufacturing area for employees to wash and sanitize their hands before entering the manufacturing area,” the FDA wrote.

The FDA’s investigation found a number of other problems at the ice cream maker that contributed to the outbreak, including the lack of a written food safety plan. Throughout the inspection, the FDA visited the facility 14 times and found that the manufacturer failed to ensure that people were qualified “to perform their assigned duties and have records documenting food hygiene and food safety training.”

The organization also found that the facility was reinfected with listeria before the outbreak occurred last July.

“You have not identified or implemented controls related to the risk of re-contamination of environmental pathogens at your facility,” the FDA wrote. “This lack of control was confirmed by repeated contamination with environmental pathogens during environmental testing on 07/14/22.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, listeria is a bacterial infection caused by eating contaminated food. According to the CDC, pregnant women, people over 65, and people with compromised immune systems are at greatest risk.

Symptoms can resemble common food poisoning symptoms, including diarrhea and fever, and most people who experience these symptoms get better without treatment.

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