The CDC Blue Bell Investigation Is Over, But You Still Shouldn't Eat That Leftover Quart Of Cookies 'N Cream
The Centers for Disease Control concluded their investigation Wednesday into the listeria outbreak that prompted the complete recall of Blue Bell ice cream products, effectively taking them off shelves and out of freezers for months. The recall — the first ever for the 108-year-old company — initially came about due to a listeria outbreak at the company's Brenham, Texas, location but it was quickly revealed that a Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, plant had also been tainted by listeria. The CDC found that contamination also extended to the Sylacauga, Alabama, facility as well. So, what does this investigation mean for Blue Bell?
According to a statement released following the CDC reports, President Paul Kruse said that the company's next step is to completely overhaul their safety practices in an effort to prevent similar outbreaks from occurring:
We are committed to seeing this plan through and to working with the FDA each step of the way. Once Blue Bell, the FDA and the applicable state regulators agree we are ready to reintroduce products into commerce, we plan to resume production with a phased-in selection of flavors and sizes, expanding only after our revised programs have demonstrated they are capable of ensuring product safety.
Sadly, there is still no set date on when your favorite ice cream flavors will be returning to shelves or even when Blue Bell will begin making test batches. In addition to the three major facilities confirmed with listeria, the CDC also investigated Texas-based facilities in Houston, San Antonio, Amarillo, and Odessa, as well as one in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The aforementioned facilities mostly serve as shipping facilities. Officials found small issues with the San Antonio facility, which they claimed lacked a designated damaged goods area in addition to finding pallet debris near food storage spots. They also allegedly found condensation build-up in the Houston facility's freezers, an excess of ice built up near palettes of strawberry banana bars, and a broken light shield near the vanilla ice cream.
No matter how badly you may be craving that gallon of ice cream hidden deep within your freezer or that you've just purchased via the illicit Blue Bell black market, the company has continued to caution against consuming their products. Contaminated products have been found to date as far back as January 2014, and listeria is the type of bacteria that can still thrive even while in a freezer.
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