What You Need To Know About The Nationwide Ice Cream Recall

Cult-favorite ice cream brand Van Leeuwen is adored by fans across the U.S. for its selection of unique flavors, as well as an impressive range of vegan options. One glance at its website displays upward of 20 dairy-free ice creams, including classics like Mint Chip and creative varieties like Passion Fruit Layer Cake.

That said, if you recently bought a pint of Van Leeuwen ice cream you should be aware that on May 10, the brand announced a voluntary recall of 2,185 pints of its dairy-free Oat Milk Brown Sugar Chunk flavor due to an undeclared tree nut ingredient. Tree nuts are a common food allergen that can put some people at risk of life-threatening anaphylaxis. Impacted items were distributed to retailers nationwide and come in cylindrical 14-ounce pints with an orange-colored design.

At the time of writing, Van Leeuwen is still investigating the exact source of the allergen, which is believed to be cashews and pistachios. The company decided to pull the treat from shelves after one customer informed the company they experienced an allergic reaction after eating it. However, the FDA urges customers with sensitivity to any tree nuts (including pecans, hazelnuts, cashews, Brazil Nuts, and pine nuts) to dispose of the affected products to avoid a potential reaction. Per Mayo Clinic, possible signs of an allergic response are hives and nausea, as well as swelling of the mouth, skin, eyes, and throat. More serious reactions include shortness of breath, throat tightening, rapid pulse, and lightheadedness. If you or someone near you experiences any of these symptoms, seek urgent medical help.

Undisclosed allergens put certain consumers at risk

If you have a pint of Van Leeuwenhoek in the freezer, there's no need to panic. Customers can identify the affected product by package lot number 21V194 and a best-by date that reads January 13, 2023. "The recall does not apply to any other lot marking, best by date, or varieties of Van Leeuwen Ice Cream products," declared the company to the FDA.

Still, while the recall only impacts a limited amount of products, it's likely to cause some stress for Van Leeuwen fans, especially those who purchased the Oat Milk Brown Sugar Chunk flavor as an allergy-friendly alternative to the dairy-free ice creams that are made with nut milk. The situation is representative of a fairly common, dangerous problem in food manufacturing and labeling. Per one 2008 survey in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, an estimated one in six product recalls relating to unknown allergens are responsible for adverse reactions in people with allergies. Undeclared tree nuts in particular account for approximately 16% of those recalls. Although Van Leeuwen explicitly labels the product as only "Cashew Free," on its website, it's possible some customers interpreted this as an indication that the ice cream was safe to eat for those with tree nut allergies. 

Van Leeuwen noted in its recall report that consumers who purchased affected pints of ice cream can return it to whatever store they purchased it from for a refund.