Product recalls have been making the news with worrying frequency this year, but Blue Bell's complete product recall announced on Monday was possibly unprecedented in its scale. If you're the kind of person who, for some inexplicable reason, keeps a pint of ice cream or a frozen snack long forgotten in your freezer (until now), should you throw out your Blue Bell product, since the recall required all of its goods to be withdrawn?
The voluntary recall was made after two samples of Blue Bell's chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream tested positive for listeria, a potentially fatal bacteria for those with weak immune systems, including young children, frail or elderly people. Listing ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet and frozen snacks in its recall statement, Blue Bell CEO and president Paul Kruse said that the company was "heartbroken" about the situation.
Considering how far back the reported illnesses stretched, it's likely that you wouldn't have a frozen yogurt dating back years ago. But on the off chance that you do — because if you're absent-minded like me and frequently find pleasant surprises in the freezer — according to an FDA statement on the recall, you should probably get rid of it, no matter how old it is.
The statement clearly cautions against consuming any Blue Bell products, even if they've been lingering in your freezer for a while:
Consumers should not eat any of the recalled the products. If these ice cream products are in your freezer, they should be thrown away or returned, even if some of them have been eaten without anyone becoming ill.
According to the Associated Press, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) said that they have identified 10 listeria infections linked to Blue Bell products that were made over the last five years, including three fatalities. The listeria illnesses were reported in Texas (the company's home state), Kansas, Oklahoma and Arizona, and occurred sometime between January 2010 and January 2015.
Blue Bell's first recall in its 108-year history took place in March, after five patients fell ill with listeria at a Kansas hospital, and three died. It was later expanded to include more products over the same fear of listeria contamination. April's latest recall covers products that were distributed to 23 states across the country, as well as international locations, the company's statement said. Two Filipino distributors of Blue Bell products also said they were participating in the recall.
On the company's part, Kruse vowed to ensure all of its products' safety before they go back on sale. Among the new safety measures it will take are more thorough cleaning and sanitizing of the equipment; an 800 percent increase in testing facility surfaces; expanded employee training; and daily lab tests of samples.
So while Blue Bell fans may not be able to enjoy any of its ice cream anytime soon, take solace in the fact that you can return it to the place of purchase for a full refund — though whether stores will accept years-old ice cream is another question altogether.
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