Blue Bell Ice Cream of Brenham, Texas, USA, is now in the process of voluntarily recalling all ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet and frozen snacks on the market that was made at all of its facilities.
The reason for the total recall is that the products have potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, an organism which 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.
This action follow a limited recall earlier this month which included Banana Pudding ice cream pints and all other items produced between February 12 and March 27 on a line at the company’s plant in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.
“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, the company’s chief executive officer and president. “We are heartbroken about this situation and apologize to all of our loyal 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.”
The products being recalled are distributed to retail outlets as well as 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.
The decision to implement a total recall came after findings from an enhanced sampling program initiated by the company revealed that Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream half gallons produced from March 17- 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. As such, all products will be tested first and held for release to the market only after the tests confirm they are safe. The Broken Arrow facility will remain closed as the company continues to investigate.
In addition to the “test and hold” system, Blue Bell is implementing additional safety procedures and testing including:
- Expanding its system of daily cleaning and sanitizing of equipment
- Expanding swabbing and testing plant environment by 800% to include more surfaces
- Sending samples daily to a microbiology laboratory for testing
- Providing additional employee training
The company expects to resume distribution soon on a limited basis once it is confident in the safety of its product. Meanwhile, consumers who have bought items in question re urged to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund. For more information, call 1-866-608-3940 or visit www.bluebell.com.