Blue Bell Ice Cream is voluntarily recalling some products made in its Sylacauga, Alabama plant because they were made with a chocolate chip cookie dough ingredient supplied by Aspen Hills that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes bacteria. Blue Bell ice cream was the center of the 10th largest foodborne illness outbreak of 2015. Ten people were sickened with listeriosis after eating Blue Bell products; three of them died. You can see pictures of the recalled products at the FDA web site.
Aspen Hills sent a recall notice to Blue Bell about its No Egg Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough after testing at the Blue Bell facility “identified a potential problem,” according to the recall notice. No reports of illness have been received to date, but listeriosis, the illness caused by this bacteria, can take up to 70 days to manifest.
The recalled products are Blue Bell Ice Cream Half Gallons in Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough (code date 082618226) and Blue Bell Cookie Two Step (code dates 080418222 and 081818224). In addition, Blue Bell Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough in pint sizes, with code dates 081518242 and 082418242 is also recalled. These products were distributed in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.
Blue Bell products are tested and held before being distributed, but the recall is being issued “out of an abundance of caution.” If you purchased any of these products, do not eat them. Throw them away in a sealed container or take them back to the store where you bought them for a full refund.
Wash your hands well after handling these products. Then clean out your refrigerator and/or freezer with a solution of one tablespoon liquid chlorine bleach to one gallon of water, since freezing doesn’t kill this bacteria and since it can grow at refrigerator temperatures.
If you ate any of these recalled products, watch yourself for the symptoms of listeriosis for the next 70 days. Symptoms include high fever, stiff neck, nausea, vomiting, and muscle aches. Pregnant women may only have a mild flu-like illness, but listeriosis can cause miscarriage and stillbirth.