June 6, 2023

FDA: Blue Bell Ice Cream Linked to Listeria Outbreak Made in Texas

blue bell listeria ice cream

Blue Bell Scoops

Rare strains of Listeria cultured from five patients at Via Christi hospital in Wichita were also found in several flavors of ice cream made at Blue Bell Creameries’ Brenham, Texas facility, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Between January 2014 and January 2015, Listeria sickened five Via Christi patients who ate Blue Bell ice cream they were served while hospitalized for unrelated illnesses. Three of them died.

Cultures from the five patients revealed four rare strains of Listeria. Three of the strains were highly similar to one another. During routine testing at a South Carolina distribution center on February 12, the South Carolina Department of Health & Environmental Control found seven strains of Listeria in ice cream products made at Blue Bell’s  production facility in Brenham. Three of them were the highly similar outbreak strains. The Blue Bell ice cream products that tested positive for Listeria were: Chocolate Chip Country Cookie Sandwich and the Great Divide Bar.

After being notified of South Carolina’s test results, the Texas Department of State Health Services went to Blue Bell’s Brenham facility and collected ice cream samples. Tests on these samples also found Listeria in Chocolate Chip Country Cookie Sandwiches and Great Divide Bars. And they were positive in a third product made on the same production line, Scoops, a single-serving product.

Four of the five patients sickened at Via Christi were able to provide food histories. All of them ate Blue Bell single-serving ice cream products or milkshakes made from these products before they developed listeriosis.

In a statement posted on its website yesterday, Blue Bell Creameries said: “One of our machines produced a limited amount of frozen snacks with a potential listeria problem. When this was detected all products produced by this machine were withdrawn.  Our Blue Bell team members recovered all involved products in stores and storage.”

But because the problem had been ongoing for 12 months prior to Blue Bell’s product withdrawal and because symptoms of Listeria can take as long as 70 days to develop, health officials are concerned about consumers who may have potentially contaminated Blue Bell products in their freezers. The products have a two-year shelf life.

Blue Bell ListeriaThe products affected are: Chocolate Chip Country Cookie SKU # 196, Great Divide Bar SKU #108, Sour Pop Green Apple Bar SKU #221,
Cotton Candy Bar SKU #216, Scoops SKU #117,  Vanilla Stick Slices SKU #964, Almond Bars SKU #156, 6 pack Cotton Candy Bars SKU #245,
6 pack Sour Pop Green Apple Bars SKU #249, and 12 pack No Sugar Added Mooo Bars* SKU #343.

Listeriosis sickens about 1,600 Americans each year and is fatal in about 20 percent of cases. Symptoms, which can take as long as 70 days to develop, include gastrointestinal problems followed by fever, severe headache, stiff neck, loss of balance and confusion. Among pregnant women, listeriosis can cause miscarriages and stillbirths. Others at high risk include young children, those with compromised immune systems and seniors.

All five patients in this outbreak are seniors. Three of them are female.


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