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SARASOTA, Fla. – Florida officials have shut down a Sarasota-based ice cream company after nine environmental samples at its facility tested positive for listeria.

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Big Olaf Creamery’s processing facility in Sarasota was officially shuttered on Wednesday after the samples tested positive, WWSB-TV reported. The company had already voluntarily closed the building, according to the television station.

Erin M. Moffet, spokesperson for the Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, said that 100 environmental samples were collected inside the facility on July 7.

“FDACS has issued a stop use order of the processing equipment where the listeria monocytogenes was found,” Moffet said in a news release. “This will effectively shut down all operations at this processing facility, which had already been done voluntarily by the company.”

The announcement comes hours after the U.S. Food & Drug Administration announced that Big Olaf was recalling all flavors and all lots of its ice cream products.

According to the FDACS investigation this month, traces of listeria were found in two conveyor cross beams between machines, two floor drains, a squeegee in a sink, a metal floor support between machines, inside two pipes that transfers premix to the ice cream machine and a transfer pump outlet on a pasteurized ice cream cooler, WWSB reported.

The bacteria can cause food poisoning symptoms as well as severe illness and death, the Bradenton Herald reported.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began investigating Big Olaf after one woman died and 22 other people were hospitalized across 10 states.

All flavors, lots, and expiration dates through June 30, 2022, of Big Olaf brand ice cream products have been recalled, the CDC said in a news release on Wednesday.

Florida-made ice cream linked to listeria outbreak that killed 1, left 22 hospitalized in 10 states

Mary Billman, 79, of Illinois, died in Hollywood, Florida, on Jan. 29, according to The Associated Press. Her estate is suing the ice cream company, claiming that her death was related to her eating the ice cream 11 days earlier.

Another lawsuit, filed by Massachusetts residents Kristen Hopkins and her husband, Frank Imbruglia, in Pinellas County, alleged that Hopkins suffered a miscarriage after eating the ice cream and becoming infected with listeria while visiting Florida, WFLA-TV reported.

Dr. Matthew Wise, branch chief of the Outbreak Response and Prevention Branch at the CDC, told WWSB that listeria is difficult to eradicate.

The thing about listeria is that it’s a pathogen, or a germ, that can kind of set up shop in a food production environment and sort of reside there for a really, really long period,” Wise told the television station. “So sometimes you’ll have listeria and a piece of equipment or a production facility that can, you know, slowly contaminate food over really, really long time periods.”

Big Olaf, which was founded in 1982, has not responded to requests for comment by WWSB.

The company posted a statement on its Instagram and Facebook accounts before the lawsuits were filed, urging readers to share the post “to avoid misinformation.”

“We have been cooperating with the Florida Department of Health, FDACS and the FDA as soon as we were informed about the situation,” according to the Instagram post. “We have been transparent and have answered all their questions and provided them with all the information requested from us, as the health and well being of the public is our first priority.”

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