USA – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has released a new report highlighting the need for strategic preventive measures against bacteria contamination in commercial ice cream production.

The report follows FDA’s inspection and environmental sampling of ice cream production facilities for Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella carried out in 2016 and 2017.

FDA says the efforts would help better understand microbial hazards and prevent contaminated products from reaching consumers.

The report underscores the need for commercial ice cream makers to control hazards in accordance with the Preventive Controls for Human Food rule established by the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

The FDA conducted inspections and environmental sampling of 89 ice cream production facilities, and according to the agency, some of the samples detected contamination with Listeria monocytogenes as well as Salmonella.

“Following a string of safety issues related to a number of U.S. ice cream distributors, the FDA engaged a team to inspect and obtain environmental samples from 89 ice cream production facilities in 32 states to test for Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella,” said Frank Yiannas, FDA Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response.

Although many of these facilities were adhering to good manufacturing practices, we did find that some were in violation of the law.”

Key findings of the assignment

The agency began the sampling assignment following 16 recalls of ice cream products that occurred from 2013 to 2015 due to the presence of pathogens, and an outbreak of listeriosis linked to an ice cream maker in 2015 that involved three deaths.

No objectionable conditions or practices were observed in nearly half of the ice cream production facilities inspected.

The FDA did detect Listeria monocytogenes in 19 of the facilities; however, only one of them was found to have the pathogen on a food-contact surface.

The FDA also detected Salmonella in one facility.

As a result of these findings, three voluntary recalls were conducted in 2017 and 2018.

These include two voluntary recalls of Working Cow Homemade Inc. ice creams due to potential contamination with Listeria monocytogenes, and a Nelson’s Creamery LLC recall due to undeclared soy lecithin in one of their products.

The FDA also suspended Working Cow Homemade Inc.’s food facility registration in 2018.

The FDA lifted the suspension earlier this year after the firm changed its business model to cease making ice cream and only distribute product made by other manufacturers.