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Cookie dough recall hits Weight Watchers frozen desserts

Monday, November 14, 2016 23:25
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Weight Watchers is recalling 100,000 cases of its Smart Ones frozen desserts containing pieces of cookie dough that has been recalled because of Listeria monocytogenes contamination.

“This issue was identified when Aspen Hills, the supplier of the cookie dough pieces used as an ingredient in Weight Watchers Smart Ones Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Sundae frozen desserts, reported positive test results for Listeria monocytogenes,” according to the Weight Watchers product recall notice on the Food and Drug Administration’s website.

“We immediately began an investigation and are voluntarily taking this action as a precautionary measure. … There have been no consumer complaints or reports of illness related to this issue to date. … No other sizes, varieties or code dates of Weight Watchers Smart Ones products are included in this recall.”

Although only one flavor of Weight Watchers Smart Ones desserts is subject to the recall — Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Sundae — it is packaged under 21 different date codes, ranging from Dec. 28, 2016, through July 28, 2017. Retailers across the country received the product. Check the recall notice for date codes and other label information.

Weight Watchers is among several companies that have recalled products in recent weeks because of cookie dough from Aspen Hills Inc. of Garner, IA. Those companies include:

The cookie dough company has refused to release its customer list, but in October a company spokeswoman said none of the recalled Aspen Hills cookie dough went to fund-raising customers. She said it all went to commercial food manufacturers.

Aspen Hills Inc.’s website states “daily production capacity is 180,000 lbs. of product.”

“The manufacturing facility in Garner, IA, was designed specifically for large-volume cookie dough manufacturing and boasts housing an onsite freezer capable of storing 15 semi-trailer loads of cookie dough,” according to the Aspen Hills Inc. website.

Blue Bell Creameries discovered contamination
The iconic Brenham, TX-based Blue Bell Creameries discovered Listeria monocytogenes in cookie dough from Aspen Hills Inc. during product testing at one of its production plants in September.

Aspen Hills recalled some cookie dough at that time and launched an in-house investigation. Although the cookie dough producer did not find Listeria in its products or plant, according to a statement issued in October, it did discover food safety “issues,” which spurred company officials to recall cookie dough.

The cookie dough recall notice was not made public, though, going only to the 27 food manufacturing companies that had received Aspen Hills dough produced from July 15 through Sept. 30. All ice cream produced by Aspen Hills during that period is being recalled.

Public urged to self-monitor for symptoms
No illnesses had been reported in connection to any of the recalled cookie dough of recalled products made with it, as of the posting dates of individual recalls. However, symptoms of Listeria infection can take up to 70 days after exposure to develop. Food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes may not look, smell or taste bad.

Anyone who has eaten any of the recalled products and developed symptoms of Listeria infection should seek medical attention and inform their doctors about the possible exposure to the pathogen.

Listeria monocytogenes can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections In young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy people may suffer short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria monocytogenes infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

For more details on the Aspen Hills cookie dough recall and other product recalls related to it, please see: Cookie dough recall for Listeria ripples through food chain

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