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Blue Bell Ice Cream Expands Product Recall to Include 3-Ounce Ice Cream Cups

Filed April 8th, 2015 Julie Fidler

The listeria bacteria that sickened five people in Kansas and triggered a March 15 recall of Blue Bell Ice Cream products has been detected in a second production facility, resulting in an expansion of that recall.

The latest recall affects 3-ounce cups of chocolate, vanilla and strawberry Blue Bell Ice Cream cups that were made on a production line at Blue Bell’s Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, plant. The cups have pull-tab lids and were shipped in bulk to “institutional accounts” in 23 states. The products are not sold in retail stores, according to ABC News.

Blue Bell Ice Cream recalled 10 products earlier this month after five patients at Via Christi St. Francis hospital in Wichita, Kansas, became ill with listeriosis while hospitalized at some point between December 2013 and January 2015. At least four of those patients drank milkshakes made with Blue Bell ice cream while at the hospital. Three of the patients died, ABC News reported.

Health inspectors discovered the contaminated 3-ounce cups after testing other Blue Bell products at the hospital, Sara Belfry, spokeswoman for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, told ABC News. Kansas health officials are still carrying out testing to determine whether any other cases of listeriosis are associated with the strain of the bacteria detected in the Blue Bell products, according to ABC News.

Listeriosis is a potentially deadly infection caused by eating food contaminated with listeria. Pregnant women, newborns, older adults and people with weakened immune systems are the most susceptible to the illness. Listeriosis causes fever, muscle aches, diarrhea and other gastrointestinal problems.

Stan Stromberg, director of food safety for the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, said the freezing temperatures used by Blue Bell to manufacture its products won’t kill listeria, but prevent the pathogen from growing and spreading.

“It’s unusual to find listeria in ice cream because it’s pasteurized and immediately packaged and frozen,” Stromberg told ABC News. “The pasteurization would have killed the bacteria. It could have been introduced between pasteurization and packaging.”

The recall is the first in Blue Bell’s 108-year history, ABC News reported.

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