Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, which recalled all of its products last month after Listeria contamination was found in two pints of ice cream made in its Columbus, OH, production kitchen, will reopen most of its 21 scoop shops on Friday.
Owner Jeni Britton Bauer indicated that the company wouldn’t be back to full production, and that customers might want to think of it “as a rolling summer.”
Because 265 tons of the company’s existing stock had to be destroyed in the recall (at an estimated cost of more than $2.5 million), Jeni’s will be ramping back up and some flavors won’t be available for a while, she said.
“We are starting from nothing,” Bauer wrote May 14 in a company blog. “As a result, we won’t have strawberries until they are ripe in the field, or Roasted Strawberry Buttermilk ice cream until around mid-summer. But it will be glorious.”
Swab tests of Jeni’s production kitchen found Listeria on the spout of one machine, according to CEO John Lowe. The company also reconfigured its production facility layout to limit cross-contamination and is processing fresh fruits and vegetables added to ice cream products at a separate location.
Bauer noted that the recall experience had been a “bumpy road getting back up, and there were times we didn’t know if we were going to make it. As a result, we have a new appreciation for life.”
She said that her company has partnered with Smith’s dairy in Orrville, OH, to make some flavors of Jeni’s ice cream, along with frozen yogurts using Jeni’s recipes.
The production kitchen in Columbus is moving a bit slower than before and a bit more methodically, Bauer added.
In a recent interview with a Columbus business publication, she said that of course her company was aware of the Blue Bell Creameries recall and that there would be increased public attention as a result.
“Obviously we learned a lot in the last month, but we were doing a very good job before. But now we know how dangerous this is even for the cleanest, most-wonderful kitchens to be affected. The early days, you don’t know how bad this is going to get and that’s really hard,” she said.
Two Jeni’s locations (North Market in Columbus and Nashville’s Farmer’s Market) won’t reopen until Saturday because of limited market hours, and two seasonal shops in central Ohio will not be open for a while. Also, Bauer said that grocery store and online sales won’t resume until later this summer when a consistent supply of ice cream pints is available.
She thanked several ice cream companies, both in Ohio and in other states, for offering assistance and support to her company in the past few weeks.
“Johnson’s invited us to use their kitchen. Pierre’s, Toft’s, and Velvet — as Smith’s did — offered to make our ice creams to our specifications with their equipment,” Bauer said, adding, “Ohio isn’t just a dairy state, it’s an ice cream state. There are so many great ice cream makers, and I’m convinced it’s why Ohio ice cream is so good. To my fellow ice cream makers, I am proud beyond words to be in your company.”