Information about the 4/23/15 voluntary recall of our frozen products
April 23, 2015 – Columbus, Ohio – Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams has initiated a voluntary recall of all ice creams, frozen yogurts, sorbets, and ice cream sandwiches for all flavors and containers because of the possible presence of Listeria monocytogenes. The company is ceasing all sales and closing all scoop shops until all products are ensured to be 100% safe.
Listeria monocytogenes is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals infected by Listeria may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea, infected pregnant women can suffer miscarriages or stillbirths.
The ice creams, frozen yogurts, sorbets, and ice cream sandwiches being recalled were distributed in the United States to retail outlets, including food service accounts and grocery markets, as well as online at jenis.com. This recall includes all products bearing the “Jeni’s” brand name.
The contamination was discovered in a sample randomly collected by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture.
Out of an abundance of caution, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams is taking this voluntary precautionary measure in order to ensure complete consumer safety. “Our top priority is guaranteeing the safety of all consumers by taking every possible precaution,” says John Lowe, CEO of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams.
“We have decided to recall everything currently on retailer shelves, and we are closing our scoop shops until we are 100% confident every item we sell is safe. We have called in experts to help us find the root cause. We will be working with our suppliers to determine if the bacteria was introduced by one of the ingredients we use. We will not reopen the kitchen until we can ensure the safety of our customers.”
Customers who have purchased any of the products are urged to dispose of them or return them to the store where they were purchased for an exchange or full refund, and consult with their physician regarding any medical questions. Customers may also contact Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at 614-360-3905 between the hours of 9 am and 10 pm (E.D.T.) on April 23 and 24, from 9 am to 5 pm (E.D.T.) on April 25 and 26, and from 9 am to 5 pm (E.D.T.) on Mondays through Fridays thereafter. Jeni’s can also be contacted by email at email@example.com, and at jenis.com/recall.
About Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams is a Certified B Corporation. Founded by Jeni Britton Bauer in 2002 in Columbus, Ohio, Jeni’s buys Direct Trade and Fair Trade ingredients and pays all employees above a living wage. Jeni Britton Bauer has honed her ice cream-making skills for nearly two decades and is the author of the New York Times bestseller Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home. With more than 100,000 copies in print, the cookbook dubbed the “homemade-ice cream-making Bible” by The Wall Street Journal earned Jeni a 2012 James Beard Award, America’s most coveted honor for those writing about food and the culinary arts. Jeni’s followup, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream Desserts, was published in May, 2014.
April 24, 2015 – Columbus, Ohio – We want to provide an update on what we have done, what we have learned and what we are doing to ensure this never happens again.
First, as you know, we have recalled every frozen product that we have made.
Second, we created a communications center at our home office, staffed by Team Jeni’s members who normally work in sales, marketing, finance and operations, to take phone calls through late last night, tonight, this weekend, and then more normal workday hours next week.
We have received approximately 600 calls and emails as of this afternoon.
Our team is working with more than 10 top scientists—from sanitation experts to dairy processing experts. We are working with third party labs in Columbus and Omaha.
In addition, the FDA has provided more than four people to work with us from multiple district offices, and a lab in Denver. The Ohio Department of Agriculture has provided three people to support our efforts.
We began a broad sampling of products. Early testing suggests that Listeria was present in other pints from the same batch as the pint that tested positive for Listeria. In addition, we have received early indications suggesting that Listeria will be confirmed in another flavor from a different batch.
We have completed a swab-testing regime at our production kitchen, in conjunction with FDA experts. Hundreds of swab samples were taken across the facility, including processing equipment, spatulas, floor mats and drain pipes. Swabs were sent to a private lab in Columbus and an FDA lab.
The early indications from those tests indicate the presence of Listeria in our production kitchen. We are encouraged that the early indications suggest we have found it and can focus on eradicating it.
Yesterday an extensive cleaning and eradication plan was devised by an expert in dairy processing cleaning. This morning, that expert began leading two teams in a systematic, thorough, top-to-bottom cleaning and Listeria eradication effort. That effort is expected to take a few days. When the cleaning/eradication process is completed, we will again complete a swab-testing regime to test for the presence of Listeria.
We will not reopen the production kitchen until we are emphatically sure it is clean of Listeria. Beyond that, we will not open the production kitchen until we know we have the proper new systems in place to ensure this problem is never repeated. To that end, we are retaining an expert who will spend next week with us implementing new procedures for how our production kitchen operates and for instituting post-production testing protocols.
Listeria is a serious matter, and we urge our customers to be thorough in disposing of any frozen Jeni’s products.
April 28, 2015 — Columbus, Ohio — Here’s where things currently stand.
The all-hands-on-deck Listeria eradication effort continues at our production kitchen. World-class experts and our team are working together to ensure we get it all, finally and forever.
We are destroying more than 535,000 pounds (265 tons) of ice cream. That is 15 semi-truck loads or more than 300 pallets. We estimate that this recall will cost the company more than $2.5 million. The vast majority of the ice cream, if not all, will be taken to an anaerobic digester that will convert the dairy into electricity and a clean, natural soil fertilizer.
For the record, the lot number of the product that began this inquiry is 5-025-201 and is stamped on the bottom of the containers. The product is a pint of Dark Chocolate ice cream. We have been reluctant to release the specific flavor and batch number of the pint only because we did not want people to wrongly assume Listeria is not present in other flavors and batches.
We have since tested a number of pints and buckets. While all of our buckets and the vast majority of pints tested negative, Listeria was found in a pint of The Buckeye State ice cream (5-082-265), and Listeria might be present in other flavors as well. So let me be unmistakably clear: no one should be eating any of Jeni’s frozen products.
Our suppliers have jumped in and reacted to this as all of us would want. I’m particularly proud of Shawn Askinosie of Askinosie Chocolate, who immediately had his facility and chocolate tested (all results showed no presence of Listeria), and of Smith’s Dairy in Orrville, Ohio, who has always tested our milk and cream for Listeria before delivering it to us and who has jumped in to help us in our time of need. Beyond that, so many partners have reached out with offers of support. And members of our team are beginning to work with a few of our top partners to help us begin to get back on our feet.
In a time of crisis you learn a lot about the quality of the team you play on. Across our company there has been focus and commitment—a rising to the challenge that makes me more proud than ever to be a part of Team Jeni’s. From watching Jeni Britton Bauer dive in with fellow dairy experts to find the root problem, to our fulfillment team scrambling to our Columbus airport vending machines to ensure no one might buy Jeni’s after the recall, these have been a moving few days.
Team Jeni’s is made up of about 575 people. We have taken steps to provide partial pay for team members who are missing work as a result of the temporary closure: 25% for employees in our scoop shops, most of whom are part-time, and 50% for our kitchen employees, almost all of whom are full-time. We are maintaining health benefits. We have slashed budgets and spending in every way conceivable in an effort to avoid layoffs while we try to subsist without revenue, face the very meaningful costs of the recall, and determine just how long our production kitchen will be down.
While we have been working hard to complete the work that needs to be done, it has been impossible for us to ignore the amazing level of support we have felt. It feels woefully insufficient to say it, but, thank you.
Finally, let me reiterate: we will not make or serve ice cream again until we can ensure it is 100% safe. Until we know more about reopening, we are going to continue to keep our heads down and to work hard to get this issue resolved. But know this: you’ll be hearing from us soon.
May 6, 2015 — Columbus, Ohio — Thank you for your patience during the past week as we worked to identify and eliminate the source of Listeria in our production kitchen.
As we’ve previously stated, we found Listeria in our production kitchen. We can now say that we believe we located the smoking gun. Our swab testing found Listeria on the spout of one of our production machines. It is a machine we use to fill a portion of our pints. The machine was not used to fill buckets that we scoop from in our shops, but we are nonetheless continuing with our plan to dispose of all of those buckets.
We’ll never be 100% certain how Listeria got onto the machine. Our job now is to rework our production kitchen into a facility that provides the best defenses against any contamination, and we have enlisted some of the world’s top food safety experts to help in that effort.
So far the conservative estimate of new investment in the transformation of our kitchen is $200,000, but we expect that number to increase. We will spend whatever it takes.
The new layout is designed to further minimize the entry of pathogens into the production environment, streamlining the movement of ingredients and employees. We are removing walls and adding cooler space, establishing color-coded hygienic zones to limit the potential for cross contamination, installing systems to spray antibacterial foam across footpaths, and sanitary crystals will be placed around drain pipes.
Among other significant changes, all fresh fruits and vegetables will now be processed at a separate location.
To help determine the ongoing effectiveness of these controls, we are implementing an aggressive environmental testing and sampling program—including a regular swab-testing regime to ensure the complete elimination of Listeria, once and for all.
Our entire kitchen team is at our headquarters this week receiving training on improved standard operating and sanitation procedures that go above and beyond the safety requirements of the FDA and Ohio Department of Agriculture.
While our primary focus will be on a system for the prevention of contamination, we’ll also be implementing a test-and-hold program, in which all batches of finished product will be tested for bacteria before shipping.
The plans we have for reworking our kitchen, along with improved standard operating procedures that go above and beyond federal and state guidelines, will enable us to make the quality of ice creams we are known for, in the safest possible way. We are hopeful that we will be able to resume ice cream production in the very near future.
Thank you again to the community of Jeni’s supporters throughout the country and here in Ohio, including Val Jorgensen of Jorgensen Farms, who has offered full-time work to our displaced employees while the kitchen and shops are closed. It means the world to us.
May 14, 2015 — Columbus, Ohio — Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams is making ice creams again in its Columbus, Ohio, production kitchen. The company also announces that all scoop shops in Ohio, Nashville, Chicago, Atlanta, Charleston, and Los Angeles will reopen in time for Memorial Day weekend.
The Jeni’s kitchen team was back at it this morning, making caramel from scratch in preparation for a run of Salty Caramel ice cream. On the schedule for tomorrow: steeping Intelligentsia Black Cat espresso beans in cream and grass-grazed Ohio milk.
When the shops open, the dipping cabinets will feature Salty Caramel and other signature flavors, throwbacks such as Root Beer, and the new, limited-edition ice cream, Sun-Popped Corn. Additional flavors will be added in the coming weeks as the kitchen returns to full production and the summer progresses.
“The support from the community here in Columbus and throughout the country has kept us going these past few weeks,” Jeni says. “We’re excited to be making ice cream again and can’t wait to share it with everyone.”
Jeni adds that everyone at the company is thrilled about having the full team back to work after the temporary kitchen and shop closings.
“There are three qualities we celebrate in our employees above all else: talent, hustle, and guts,” Jeni says. “You invest in culture specifically for times like these. Our team came together in a crisis. We will come out of this stronger as a company than we went into it.”
The Jeni’s kitchen team will be working hard to get back to full production.
“We had been ramping up production for months to prepare for summer,” Jeni says. “We had recently made our Roasted Strawberry Buttermilk from Hirsch Fruit Farm strawberries that we had frozen and banked from last summer’s harvest—all of that is gone. We are starting from scratch. As a result, we won’t have strawberries or our Roasted Strawberry Buttermilk ice cream until mid-summer.”
In order to meet the demands of opening fully-stocked shops as soon as possible, for the first time in the company’s history, Jeni’s has allowed another dairy to make a few flavors of its ice cream—Smith’s, the 110-year-old dairy, in Orrville, Ohio.
Smith’s, which has sourced Jeni’s cream and grass-grazed milk in recent years, is making a handful of flavors with Jeni’s original recipes and the same ingredients. This partnership allows Jeni’s to focus exclusively on producing the flavors that require specific skills, technique, and hands-on expertise—flavors that can be made only by the Jeni’s team in the Jeni’s production kitchen.
“Smith’s had already been sourcing raw cream and grass-grazed milk and pasteurizing it for us,” Jeni says. “While we are getting back on both feet, Smith’s will use our recipes primarily to make our frozen yogurts. They will use the same ingredients we’ve always used: Ohio grass-grazed milk and biodynamic organic yogurt from Seven Stars Farm in Pennsylvania. What they make will have the same texture and flavor.
“Meanwhile, we will focus on the flavors that only we can make, in terms of equipment, ingredients, and expertise—flavors that are impossible for others to do.”
In addition to Smith’s, Jeni says her company owes a “top-of-the-mountain shout-out” to the Ohio ice cream and dairy world at large.
“Ohio is a community of people who stick together. I have always known that. And throughout these past three weeks that has been proven especially true, especially in the realm of dairy and ice cream.
“Handels, Pierre’s, Toft’s, Velvet, the Columbus gem Johnson’s—each of these heritage ice cream companies, and even more outside Ohio, reached out to lend a helping hand or voice of support. Johnson’s invited us to use their kitchen. Pierre’s, Toft’s, and Velvet—as Smith’s did—offered to make our ice creams to our specifications with their equipment. Ohio isn’t just a dairy state, it’s an ice cream state. There are so many great ice cream makers, and I’m convinced it’s why Ohio ice cream is so good. We know ice cream in Ohio.”
Shop Opening Details & More
May 21, 2015— Columbus, Ohio — The FDA’s inspection report from April 30th, 2015 was posted online today. By May 11, 2015, we had fixed every issue identified in the report. This 2015 inspection came after the finding of Listeria, and the FDA, like us, are looking with a more critical eye at the way we operated.
In addition to fixing every issue identified by the FDA, we have been working with them throughout this entire process, including having provided a thorough response letter detailing how we have fixed each and every concern identified in their inspection report. We dove in and made darn sure we fixed all of their concerns, and we brought in outside experts to help us find other areas of improvement to create a world class, safe environment for making our ice creams. Beyond that, we have instituted test and hold procedures to ensure we are only providing safe ice cream.
The FDA also inspected our current production kitchen in 2013 and 2014; those reports were not released today. The 2014 FDA inspection revealed zero issues of concern. The 2013 FDA inspection report revealed only a concern that there was build up of ice under a fan in our large freezer.
In 2008, the FDA issued three findings of our former production kitchen. It included that there were rodent droppings behind an oven and in a garage where some sealed ingredients were stored. Those findings were addressed before that report was ever issued.
The bottom line is this: our kitchen had been inspected previously with no findings. We have already fixed everything the FDA identified, and we’ve gone beyond the FDA’s recommendations. The ice cream we are producing for our opening comes from an overhauled kitchen, a significantly more trained team working from new ground rules that enable a safer environment (such as not processing fresh fruit in the production kitchen, and not allowing work in our company garden prior to changing into production clothes).