Jeni’s CEO on Listeria risk: ‘No one should be eating any of Jeni’s frozen products’The store front of Jeni's in the Decatur Square. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams stores remain closed as the company continues to inspect and test its products for Listeria.
On April 28, the company published a sprawling press release covering its efforts to eradicate the bacteria in its kitchens and production facilities.
“For the record,” the press release from CEO John Lowe says, “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.”
Late last week the company announced the temporary closure of all of its Jeni’s scoop shops, including locations in the Atlanta area.
Listeria can cause infections in children and adults. It’s also a threat to people with weak immune systems. It has been known to cause stillbirths and miscarriages. A Listeria-outbreak in Blue Bell Ice Cream products killed three people, according to the CDC.
Jeni’s has not reported any people getting sick from its products.
Lowe described an “all-hands-on-deck” effort to purge Listeria from Jeni’s ice creams. He said the company is destroying 265 tons of ice cream, or about 15 semi-truck loads.
“We estimate that this recall will cost the company more than $2.5 million,” Lowe writes. “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.”
Jeni’s is will pay employees a portion of their wages while its shops are closed.
“Team Jeni’s is made up of about 575 people,” Lowe writes. “We have taken steps to provide partial pay for team members who are missing work as a result of the temporary closure: 25 percent for employees in our scoop shops, most of whom are part-time, and 50 percent 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.”
Lowe said the company will not be manufacturing or selling ice cream until it is certain that the threat has been eliminated.
To read the full press release, click here.