Cookie Dough Company Behind Multiple Ice Cream Recalls Shuts Down

Image courtesy of David Lifson

Where does the cookie dough in your favorite brand of ice cream come from? For numerous brands, the answer is Aspen Hills, a company in Iowa that sells frozen cookie dough for fundraisers and bulk frozen dough to ice cream makers. To be accurate, the answer was Aspen Hills.

Last year, Aspen Hills supplied eggless cookie dough that potentially contained Listeria monocytogenes to multiple ice cream brands, including Cedar Crest, Blue Bunny, Publix, and Chocolate Shoppe, and Blue Bell Creameries (which has had its own food safety issues to deal with).

The shutdown comes after the publication of an official warning letter from the Food and Drug Administration, which detailed the sites where the pathogen was found in the manufacturing facility, and other cleanliness, equipment, and procedural problems that could cause food to become contaminated.

“The presence of [Listeria] monocytogenes in your facility is significant because it demonstrates your cleaning and sanitation practices are inadequate to effectively control pathogens in your facility to prevent contamination of food,” the agency noted in the warning letter, citing four different swabs from different parts of the facility that had the same strain of Listeria.

The FDA found the company’s response to an earlier inspection unsatisfactory, including some specific (and redacted) procedural problems with the packaging of ready-to-eat products. The agency also scolded Aspen Hills for claiming that food safety training for employees performed before the FDA inspection counted as “corrective action” that the company took to fix issues that inspectors pointed out.

“After much consideration, our owners have decided to end their involvement in the company and are actively looking to wind up their affairs through a sale or other orderly disposition,” a spokesman for the company’s owners told Food Safety News in a statement. “While that process is underway, we have ceased production as of the end of December.”