In an unprecedented move to protect its customers, Blue Bell Ice Cream is voluntarily recalling ALL of its products currently on the market including ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet and frozen snacks due to a risk of Listeria contamination.
Listeria monocytogenes is an organism that 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 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."
The Blue Bell products being recalled are distributed to retail outlets, including food service 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 and Wyoming, as well as international locations.
Blue Bell says that the decision to recall all products was the result of findings from an enhanced sampling program initiated by the company which revealed that Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream half gallons produced on March 17, 2015 and March 27, 2015 contained Listeria bacteria. This means that Blue Bell has now had several positive tests for Listeria in different places and plants.
Update: On Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that 10 cases of illness have been linked to contaminated Blue Bell ice cream. Five people in a Kansas hospital became ill after eating ice cream served at the facility. Three of the patients have died. There has also been one case in Arizona, one in Oklahoma and three in Texas. An infographic can be found here.
"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 that all products will be tested first and held for release to the market only after the tests show they are safe.
Blue Bell says that it expects to resume distribution soon, on a limited basis, once it is confident in the safety of its products.
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