Blue Bell ice cream has been linked to 10 illnesses in four states, including three deaths. This is a huge recall and with hot weather right around the corner, it’s one you should be concerned about. After weeks of recalls, Blue Bell Creameries has decided to pull all of their dairy products from the shelves. This includes their entire line of ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet and other frozen snacks due to the possibility of Listeria monocytogenes contamination.
Listeria typically affects the elderly, people with compromised immune systems and pregnant women. It can cause miscarriage, stillbirth and premature labor for women and serious illness or death in newborn babies. Healthy, younger adults and most children can consume listeria with no ill effects or only mild illness.
This is an unusual recall. Listeria is rarely found in ice cream because it can’t grow at freezing temperatures. Dr. Robert Tauxe of the Center of Disease Control said it was a huge “wakeup call” for the ice cream industry. Listeria is commonly found in processed meats, unpasteurized cheeses and unpasteurized milk. Listeria in cantaloupes was linked to 30 deaths in a 2011 outbreak.
The Listeria monocytogenes bacteria is found in soil and water and can be introduced to a manufacturing plant several ways, including: carried by rodents or other animals or spread by unsanitary working and cleaning conditions. Once it contaminates a processing plant, it can be very difficult to eradicate.
After a more thorough sampling by Blue Bell to test products they discovered that Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream half gallons produced on March 17, 2015, and March 27, 2015 were contaminated which means Blue Bell tested positive for Listeria in several different places and plants. Blue Bell’s CEO and president, Paul Kruse said, “We’re committed to doing the 100 percent 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 “ in a statement. They also will close facilities in Texas, Oklahoma and Alabama for intensive cleaning.
The FDA still has open investigations in all three plants and will test Blue Bell’s progress in removing listeria from the plant and its products. In the meantime the CDC recommends that consumers do not eat any Blue Bell brand products, and that institutions and retailers do not serve or sell them. More information on the recent listeria outbreak can be found on the CDC website.