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ODA Communications
CONTACT: Mark Anthony / Deborah Abbott
(614) 752-9817/9811

Velvet Ice Cream Issues Precautionary Recall for Potential Listeria Contamination

REYNOLDSBURG -- Velvet Ice Cream Company of Utica, Ohio, is voluntarily recalling approximately 244 gallons of chocolate ice cream because they may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes bacteria, Ohio Agriculture Director Fred L. Dailey said today. The action is precautionary and there is no evidence the product is associated with any human illness, Dailey said.

The product subject to recall is Velvet brand Chocolate Ice Cream in pint-sized paper cartons. The identifying number "0119" is stamped on the bottom of the package. The product was packaged on Jan. 11, 1999, and distributed to grocery stores, convenience stores, and other retailers in 12 counties in central Ohio -- Morrow, Knox, Coshocton, Licking, Delaware, Franklin, Muskingum, Fairfield, Perry, Hocking, Pickaway, and Ross counties.

"Because of the potential of foodborne illness, we urge consumers who have purchased the suspect product not to eat it and to return it to the point of purchase," Dailey said. Also, for cartons of this product purchased since Jan. 11 of this year, if there is no identifying number on the bottom of the package or if the number is illegible, consumers should return the product to the point of purchase, Dailey added.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture discovered the problem through its routine monitoring of the food supply for possible contamination. One pint of the ice cream collected by ODA inspectors from a convenience store in Central Ohio on Feb. 8 was found to contain Listeria monocytogenes in laboratory tests concluded yesterday at the agency's Consumer Analytical Laboratory. ODA shared the lab findings with Velvet officials yesterday. The Ohio Department of Health will now conduct DNA tests on the bacteria to determine if it is linked to any known case of human illness.

"I would like to commend Velvet for taking these precautionary measures so promptly," Dailey said. "I'm confident they are placing the highest priority on their customers' health and well being."

Consumption of food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes can cause listeriosis, an uncommon but potentially fatal disease. Healthy people rarely get listeriosis. The most common manifestation of listeriosis is meningitis, which has symptoms of high fever, severe headache, neck stiffness, and nausea. Listeriosis can also cause miscarriages and stillbirths, as well as serious and sometimes fatal infections in those with weakened immune systems -- infants, the frail or elderly, and persons with chronic disease or HIV infection, or who are taking chemotherapy for cancer. Anyone concerned about an illness should call their doctor immediately.

Consumers with questions about the recall may phone Velvet Ice Cream Company at 740-892-3921. Consumers with questions about food safety may call ODA's consumer information hotline toll-free at 800-282-1955 during regular business hours.


The information contained herein has been obtained from sources that the Company believes to be reliable, however, the Company has not independently verified or confirmed the information and the recipient acknowledges that no representations or warranties are being made in connection with the use of the information.