June 19, 2018

CDC Updates Blue Bell Creameries Ice Cream Listeria Outbreak

The CDC has updated their investigation of the Listeria monocytogenes outbreak in Kansas linked to Blue Bell Creameries ice cream products. The notice states, “based on the information CDC has at this time, we recommend that consumers do not eat any Blue Bell Brand products made at the Oklahoma production facility [in Broken Arrow] and that retailers and institutions do not sell or serve them.”

Five people have been sickened in this outbreak, and three have died. All five people were hospitalized for unrelated illnesses, and were served the ice cream while at the Via Christi hospital in Wichita, Kansas. The Kansas outbreak is linked to products made at the Blue Bell plant in Brenham, Texas.

Attorney Fred Pritzker, who has won millions for people sickened in such outbreaks, said, “people go to hospitals to get treatment for their illnesses, and for comfort and support. Any facility that provides food to hospitals should have the utmost control over possible bacterial contamination in their plants.”

The products made at the Broken Arrow, Oklahoma production plant have the letters “O”, “P”, “Q”, “R”, “S”, and “T” following the “code date” printed on the bottom of the product package. Check your freezers to see if you have any of these products.

Blue Bell Ice Cream Listeria Outbreak Codes

If you do have any, throw them away in a sealed or double bagged container so animals and other people can’t eat them. If some of the product has been eaten, throw it away and monitor yourself and family members for the symptoms of Listeria monocytogenes food poisoning. The products can have a shelf life of up to 2 years, so it’s likely some people have these recalled products in their homes.

More information about exactly which products were recalled, including pictures of the product packages, can be found at the CDC web site. They include 12 pack No Sugar Added Mooo Bars, 6 pack Cotton Candy Bars, Cotton Candy Bar, 6 pack Sour Pop Green Apple Bars, pre-wrapped Vanilla Stick Slices, Pre-wrapped SCOOPS, Blue Bell Almond Bars, Sour Pop Green Apple Bar, Great Divide Bar, and Chocolate Chip County Cookie. The regular Mooo Bars are not part of this recall. In addition, 3 ounce institutional/food service ice cream cups in chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla, with tab lids are recalled. Those products weren’t sold in convenience stores and supermarkets. You can see product codes for all of the recalled products at the FDA web site.

During the investigation, officials isolated Listeria monocytogenes from single serving Blue Bell brand 3 ounce institutional/food service chocolate ice cream cups collected from the Kansas hospital and from the Blue Bell Texas facility. Later, the same strain was found at the company’s Oklahoma production facility. This Listeria strain is rare.

In addition, six patients who were sickened with listeriosis that had the same PFGE pattern between 2010 and 2014 were found in PulseNet database. Bacteria from those patients was indistinguishable from the bacteria isolated from the Blue Bell product, and investigators are trying to determine if their illnesses are related to exposure to Blue Bell products. They may be added to the outbreak total.

The symptoms of listeriosis include flu-like fever and muscle aches, upset stomach, diarrhea, stiff neck, headache, loss of balance, and confusion. This illness can be very serious and result in Listeria meningitis and death. Pregnant women, who may only be mildly sick with symptoms similar to the flu, can suffer miscarriage and stillbirth. Listeria food poisoning causes about 500 deaths every year in this country.

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