SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — According to the CDC, the listeria outbreak which left 27 people hospitalized, ended in November 2022, however, a ‘warning letter’ from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) revealed new details surrounding the Big Olaf Creamery.
The letter was dated Dec. 9 but was made public last week. It highlighted “serious violations” found during inspections at the processing facility on Cattlemen Rd. in Sarasota County last year.
In the letter, the FDA said Big Olaf ‘did not prepare, or have prepared, and implement a food safety plan’.
The letter also states, based on the FDA’s inspectional findings, the agency determined that the ice cream products manufactured in the Sarasota facility “were prepared, packed or held under insanitary conditions whereby they may have been contaminated with filth or rendered injurious to health.”
A total of 28 people in 11 states were infected with the outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes linked to the Florida ice cream facility, according to the CDC. One death was reported from Illinois and one illness resulted in a pregnancy loss, according to the agency.
Food safety lawyer Bill Marler is representing the family of the woman from Illinois who died from a listeria infection last year. He claims the inspection reports from Big Olaf’s were some of the worst he’s seen in his decades-long career.
“The overarching issue for this is that they just didn’t have a plan. They didn’t have a plan to produce safe food,” said the food safety attorney. “These warning letters just show that the people that are running this facility or have been running this facility simply should not be making food, period,” continued Marler.
8 On Your Side has reached out to Big Olaf Creamery multiple times since July 2022. The local business has not responded to any of our requests for comment.
“At the conclusion of the inspection, FDA issued a Form FDA 483, Inspectional Observations, listing the deviations found at your facility. To date, we have not received a written response from you describing the corrective actions you have taken or plan to take at your facility,” wrote the federal agency in the December 2022 warning letter.
The FDA’s letter also indicated that Big Olaf Creamery has 15 working days to notify the federal agency in writing of the steps it has taken to address the named violations. At this point, it’s unclear if the local business has sent a response back.