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Blue Bell Issues Recall of All its Products Over Listeria Fears

Filed April 22nd, 2015 Julie Fidler

About a month after listeria was found in two cartons of Blue Bell ice cream, the company announced a recall of all of its products.

On Monday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that tests indicated Blue Bell products made at plants in Texas and Oklahoma were the source of a listeria outbreak that infected five individuals in Kansas with listeria, killing three of them. Three adults in Texas were also sickened by the bacteria, according to The New York Times (The Times).

“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,” Paul Kruse, Blue Bell’s chief executive and president, said in a video apology viewed by The Times.

Texas-based Blue Bell said it made the decision to issue the recall after two half-gallon containers of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, produced on March 17 and 27, tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes. The firm began removing ice cream products from the market on March 13 after health authorities said they suspected a link between the Kansas infections and products made by Blue Bell’s Texas plant. Mr. Kruse said that Blue Bell is not certain as to how the listeria was introduced to the company’s products, The Times reported.

A second recall of Blue Bell ice cream products was issued on March 23 after listeria was detected in products made at its Oklahoma plant. The company announced that it had expanded its cleaning and sanitizing of equipment and surfaces, and had started submitting daily samples to a lab for testing. The company also ushered in a “test and hold” system, only releasing products to the market after they are deemed safe, according to The Times.

The recalled products – including ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet and frozen snacks – were distributed to about two dozen states, along with international locations. Two distributors of Blue Bell products in the Philippines said they are also participating in the recall, The Times reported.

Listeria can cause severe infections in children, the elderly, pregnant women and individuals with weakened immune systems. Listeria can also cause miscarriages and stillbirths in pregnant women.

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