Consumers should check their freezer for recalled Blue Bell ice cream and other products.
Blue Bell Creameries, of Brenhan, Texas, announced Monday that the company is recalling all ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet and frozen snacks sold in 23 states
The company initially recalled a limited number of products in March 2015 after routine sampling by the South Carolina Department of Health found the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes. Expanded testing by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and agencies in other states has found the bacteria in a variety of Blue Bell products, but the source of the contamination has not been identified or limited to a single production facility. Since that time, Blue Bell expanded the recall twice and finally, initiated a recall of all Blue Bell products on April 20, 2015.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, a total of ten patients infected with several strains of Listeria monocytogenes have been reported from four states. All ten patients were hospitalized. Three deaths were reported from Kansas within the last year. Three strains associated with these case patients have been identified in products manufactured at either the Blue Bell production facility in Broken Arrow, Okla. or Brehnam.
“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,” said Paul Kruse, Blue Bell CEO and president. “We are heartbroken about this situation and apologize to all of our loyal Blue Bell fans and customers. Our entire history has been about making the very best and highest quality ice cream and we intend to fix this problem. We want enjoying our ice cream to be a source of joy and pleasure, never a cause for concern, so we are committed to getting this right.”
Of Blue Bell’s production facilities in Brenham, Broken Arrow and Sylacauga, Ala., only the Broken Arrow facility remains closed at this time.
“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 Creameries says it is instituting a “test and hold” system in which all products will be tested and determined safe prior to going to market, as well as stepping up sanitation of equipment and providing additional employee training.
Consumers should discard or return to the place of purchase for a refund any recalled Blue Bell products. They should not consume any recalled Blue Bell products, even if part of the product was previously consumed without onset of illness.
The FDA also advises consumers to thoroughly clean refrigerators, surfaces or utensils that may have come in contact with recalled Blue Bell products.
“Wash the inside walls and shelves of the refrigerator, cutting boards and countertops; then sanitize them with a solution of one tablespoon of chlorine bleach to one gallon of hot water; dry with a clean cloth or paper towel that has not been previously used,” the FDA directed.
Institutions and restaurants serving Blue Bell products, and retailers who sell the products direct to consumers, are also being told to undertake certain sanitation procedures.
Consumers with questions may call Blue Bell Creameries 1-866-608-3940.