Blue Bell's listeria problem has gotten much worse. On Monday, Blue Bell recalled products nationwide after another one of its factory tested positive for a listeria contamination. With two of three plants now showing signs that the dangerous bacteria has shown up in its frozen products, the ice cream company isn't taking any chances.
During a sampling program initiated by the company, Blue Bell discovered that half gallons of its Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream produced at its Brenham, Texas, factory on March 17 and March 27 contained the bacteria. Blue Bell also operates two other plants in Sylacauga, Alabama, and Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. Its Oklahoma factory was shut down last month after the company discovered a listeria contamination.
CEO Paul Kruse said in a statement he did not know how the bacteria turned up at Blue Bell's plants, but the company would work with experts to eliminate the problem.
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. We are heartbroken about this situation and apologize to all of our loyal Blue Bell fans and customers.
Blue Bell has now had several positive tests of listeria across different facilities, which is why the company is taking such drastic measures to recall its products. Blue Bell's ice creams, frozen yogurt, frozen snacks, and sherbet products are being pulled of shelves 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 company previously reported that five Kansas patients and three in Texas were being treated after testing positive for listeria monocytogenes. The organism can cause serious, and sometimes fatal, infections in young children, elderly people, and people with weakened immune systems, according to the CDC. The bacteria can cause healthy folks to suffer short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headaches, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.
Once the contamination is fixed, Blue Bell said it will use a "test and hold" procedure to ensure its reintroduced products will be contamination-free. All products will first be tested and will only be released after they are shown to be safe.
If you bought a Blue Bell product, you're strongly urged to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund. Concerned buyers can also call 1-866-608-3940 Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. CT and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. CT. You can also visit bluebell.com for more information.