January 17, 2018

Blue Bell Listeria Monocytogenes Outbreak Grows to Eight Sick

The Listeria monocytogenes outbreak linked to Blue Bell Creameries ice cream has grown to include eight sick in two states, according to the CDC. The outbreak consists of two clusters involving people sickened with this pathogenic bacteria: one in Kansas, with five sick, and one in Texas, with three sick. This complicated outbreak has occurred over an extended period of time. Three people have died in this outbreak.

Blue Bell Ice Cream Listeria Outbreak 4815

Recent testing of product samples from the Broken Arrow, Oklahoma Blue Bell facility found Listeria monocytogenes bacteria in a product sold to retail customers that were not included in the previous two recalls, including a pint of banana pudding ice cream. The government recommends that consumers not eat ANY Blue Bell products made at the Oklahoma facility, and don’t eat any of the recalled products.

Attorney Fred Pritzker, who represents people sickened by products contaminated with this pathogenic bacteria, said, “Blue Bell has a responsibility to produce a product that is safe to eat. Those who were hospitalized and given contaminated food were especially vulnerable to this pathogenic bacteria. When did Blue Bell know about this problem with its ice cream?”

The first cluster of listeriosis consists of five patients. Four of those people ate milkshakes made from Blue Bell ice cream at Via Christi hospital in Wichita, Kansas. Whole genome sequencing found that Listeria samples from patients were “highly related” to Listeria strains isolated from Blue Bell products.

The second cluster in Texas, which is newly identified, consists of three patients who were sickened from 2011 through 2014. They were all hospitalized for unrelated problems before eating Blue Bell ice cream and developing listeriosis. Listeria samples taken from those patients were highly related to Listeria bacteria isolated from 3 ounce food service chocolate ice cream cups made at the Blue Bell Broken Arrow facility in Oklahoma.

A third cluster may be identified soon. Three more patients who were sickened with listeriosis from 2010 through 2012 have PFGE patterns similar to others identified in the outbreaks. Further testing is underway to determine if those illnesses are related to this outbreak.

Blue Bell has issued three recalls: the first for ice cream products made at its Brenham, Texas facility; the second for an expansion of ice cream cups; and the third for ice cream made at its Broken Arrow, Oklahoma facility. The FDA found Listeria in a 1-pint container of Blue Bell banana pudding ice cream taken from the Oklahoma plant; this was produced on a different line from the recalled products. Blue Bell is working with retailers to remove all products from stores that were made in the Oklahoma production plant.

Please check your freezer to see if you have any of the recalled items in your home. If you do, throw them out in a double bagged container so animals and other people can’t eat them, or return to the place of purchase for a refund. Then clean your refrigerator and freezer. with a mild bleach solution, since Listeria can grow at refrigerator and freezer temperatures.

If you ate any of the recalled products, watch yourself for symptoms of listeriosis for the next 70 days. That’s how long it can take for the symptoms to appear. They include flu-like fever, muscle aches, stiff neck, headache, loss of balance, and confusion, along with upset stomach or diarrhea. Pregnant women are especially vulnerable to this illness; listeriosis can cause miscarriage or stillbirth, even though their illness may be very mild. If you do get sick, see your doctor as soon as possible and tell her you ate these recalled products.

 

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