Federal health officials found Listeria at all three manufacturing plants operated by Blue Bell Creameries, according to documents released today by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The presence of Listeria had previously been confirmed at the company’s plants in Broken Arrow, Okla. and Brenham, Texas but one of the documents released today shows Listeria was found in an environmental sample taken from the company’s plant in Sylacauga, AL on April 28, 2015.
The document was one of 34 posted on the agency’s website today, the same day that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that it has ended its investigation of the Listeria outbreak linked to Blue Bell ice cream which has killed three people and sickened several others.
The five-year span of the outbreak uncovered a longstanding and long-ignored Listeria problem at Blue Bell’s Texas and Oklahoma plants. Documents released FDA on May 7 showed the company was aware of Listeria in its plants in 2013 but did not test the bacteria to discover if it was pathogenic or take measures to eradicate the problem.
Symptoms of a Listeria infection include fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Among pregnant women, listeriosis can cause miscarriages and stillbirths
Those at elevated risk for listeriosis are older adults, pregnant women, newborns and adults with weakened immune systems. Some invasive infections can cause Listeria meningitis, as was the case for D. Philip Shockley, the plaintiff in the nation’s first lawsuit filed in connection with the Blue Bell outbreak.