Bad news, y’all: Listeria is back, and on Friday Jeni’s Ice Cream announced that it found the foodborne bacterium in its production kitchen (yet again) and has temporarily closed all 23 of its scoop shops across the country, including the three stores here in Atlanta. The Ohio-based retailer shutdown stores and destroyed 265 tons of product in late April when it first found the bacteria but eventually reopened in mid-May. The company noted on its website that it has tested every batch of ice cream since resuming production May 13 and that any ice cream we may have consumed in a shop since then “has been safe and is 100% Listeria-free.”
The foodborne bacterium infects about 1,600 people in the U.S. each year and most commonly pops up in “improperly processed deli meats and unpasteurized milk products,” according to the Mayo Clinic. Improper refrigeration and storage, cross contamination, and unsanitary workspaces are often the source of the problem. Ninety percent of people who get infected are pregnant women, newborns, adults 65 and older and anyone else with a weakened immune system. Symptoms include fever, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and cramping, and back pain—essentially everything you associate with food poisoning. As for how the bacteria could have crept its way back into a Jeni’s production kitchen, the company doesn’t yet know. “We stopped production earlier this week and have been investigating where and how it may have re-entered the facility. We have a theory and are testing that theory,” Lowe wrote.
The company doesn’t know when production will resume, and with the mercury pushing 100 degrees this week and that wonderful Georgia humidity out in full force, the timing couldn’t be worse for the retailer. In the meantime, here are five sweet alternatives to staying cool.
The coolest treat at Kristen Hard’s bean-to-bar chocolate shop might be the Aztec Chocolate Milkshake made with three scoops of dark chocolate Honeysuckle Gelato and a dusting of cayenne and cinnamon, among other secret spices. Gelato and other chocolate confections are also up for grabs. 1046 N. Highland Ave; cacaoatlanta.com
High Road Craft Ice Cream
The Marietta-based retailer no longer runs a brick-and-mortar, but it’s probably easier to drive to the nearest Whole Foods (among other select retailers) to find sweet-and-savory treats like pistachio-honey-ricotta, bourbon–burnt sugar, and Mr. Butterpants (chocolate–peanut butter). Available in select retailers like Whole Foods and Savi Provisions; highroadcraft.com
Morelli’s Ice Cream
Long before there was Jeni’s Ice Cream, there was Morelli’s, which quickly gained a following with quirky flavors like coconut jalapeño and banana cream pie. Multiple locations; morellisicecream.com
Queen of Cream
While Cora Cotrim puts the finishing touches on her Old Fourth Ward store just a few doors down from Last Word, you can find her cart at various farmers markets, including the Decatur Farmer’s Market. Signature flavors include brown butter–whiskey–pecan and cold-brewed coffee with cacao nibs. Check her Facebook for more details. facebook.com/queenofcreamATL
Vintage Frozen Custard
Midwesterners were thrilled to see one of their region’s signature treats come to the Westside in 2012. The difference between ice cream and custard comes down to egg yolks, which are folded into the mixture create a smoother, more mousse-like texture. Our standby order is the blueberry cobbler, which combines vanilla custard with blueberry compote and shortbread cookies. 1021 Howell Mill Rd; tastevintage.com