(Miami) — The estate of an Illinois woman who died earlier this year from a listeria infection filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday against a Florida ice cream company that health officials were involved in. multistate outbreak.
The lawsuit filed in Florida’s Middle County claims that Mary Billman died after eating contaminated ice cream made by Sarasota-based Big Olaf Creamery. According to the lawsuit, Billman ate at a Big Olaf location on January 18 during a visit to Florida. She fell ill and died on January 29.
Online court records do not list attorneys for Big Olaf who can comment on the case. The company released a statement Sunday saying the link between its ice cream and the listeria outbreak is unconfirmed and speculative at this time. The company has been working with state and federal health officials since being notified of the potential contamination, the statement said.
“We have been transparent and have answered all of their questions and provided them with all requested information from us, as the health and well-being of the public is our top priority. ,” said Big Olaf Creamery’s statement.
Big Olaf Creamery has voluntarily contacted retail locations to advise against selling their ice cream products, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Saturday in a press release. Consumers who have Big Olaf Creamery at home should throw away any remaining product, officials said.
Listeria is a deadly bacteria that causes symptoms such as fever, muscle aches, nausea and diarrhea. It can be treated with antibiotics, but it is especially dangerous for pregnant women, infants, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems.
CDC officials said nearly all of the 23 people known to have been infected during the outbreak either lived in or had been to Florida about a month before they got sick. Big Olaf Creamery’s ice cream is manufactured at a central facility in Sarasota and then distributed to Big Olaf Creamery stores and other retailers.
Listeria is one of the most dangerous forms of food poisoning. Symptoms usually begin one to four weeks after eating contaminated food, but can begin as early as the same day. The first cases occurred in January of this year, but continued through June, when two of the people fell ill, CDC officials said.
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