Blue Bell Ice Cream, based in Brenham TX, is voluntarily recalling all of its products currently on the market made at all of its facilities including ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet, and frozen snacks because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.
This organism can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems.
Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headaches, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.
“We’re committed to doing the 100% right thing, and the best way to do that is to take all of our products off the market until we can be confident that they are all safe,” said Paul Kruse, Blue Bell chief executive officer and president.
Products being recalled are distributed to retail outlets including foodservice accounts, convenience stores, and supermarkets in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wyoming, and international locations.
This decision was the result of findings from an enhanced sampling program initiated by Blue Bell that revealed that Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream half-gallons produced March 17, 2015, and March 27, 2015, contained the bacteria. This means Blue Bell has now had several positive tests for Listeria in different places and plants and as previously reported five patients were treated in Kansas and three in Texas after testing positive for Listeria monocytogenes.
“At every step, we have made decisions in the best interest of our customers based on the evidence we had available at the time,” Kruse said. “At this point, we cannot say with certainty how Listeria was introduced to our facilities and so we have taken this unprecedented step. We continue to work with our team of experts to eliminate this problem.”
Blue Bell is implementing a procedure called “test and hold” for all products made at all of its manufacturing facilities. This means all products will be tested first and held for release to the market only after tests show they are safe. The Broken Arrow OK facility will remain closed as Blue Bell continues to investigate.
The company also is implementing other safety procedures and testing including:
•Expanding its system of daily cleaning and sanitizing equipment
•Expanding its system of swabbing and testing the plant environment by 800% to include more surfaces
•Sending samples daily to a microbiology laboratory for testing
•Providing additional employee training
Consumers who have purchased these items are urged to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund. For more information, call 1-866-608-3940 Monday–Friday 8 am to 8 pm, Saturday 10 am–2 pm CST, or go to www.bluebell.com.