October 22, 2016

Via Christi Hospital Cases Brought Blue Bell Outbreak to Light

Three months have passed since Via Christi St. Francis Hospital in Wichita, Kansas, stopped serving all types of Blue Bell ice cream at the direction of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE). The step coincided with a major breakthrough in a festering outbreak of listeriosis that Kansas tied to Blue Bell creameries in Texas and Oklahoma. As first described March 13 in a national Listeria announcement by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), five patients at the hospital who arrived there for unrelated problems developed invasive listeriosis and three of them died.  Illness onset dates for the five patients ranged from January 2014 through January 2015 and a national database showed highly related strains of Listeria monocytogenes on file in Listeria … [Read more...]

Blue Bell Listeria Lawsuit Assigned to Judge Lee Yeakel

The nation's first lawsuit filed in the Blue Bell ice cream Listeria outbreak has been assigned to U.S. District Court Judge Lee Yeakel in Austin, Texas. The case centers on the near-fatal illness in Houston suffered by the associate executive director of a 462-apartment continuing care retirement community who regularly ate the type of Blue Bell ice cream that state and federal authorities have linked to the outbreak. D. Philip Shockley, 32, sued Blue Bell Creameries USA Inc. on May 19 in a 35-page complaint prepared by a legal team headed by the national food safety law firm PritzkerOlsen Attorneys. The ice cream lawsuit alleges that Shockley's devastating listeriosis infection was caused by tainted products that Blue Bell made in facilities infested with the bacteria Listeria … [Read more...]

Rules Set for Alabama Ice Cream Plant after Listeria Recall

Alabama and Blue Bell Creameries have reached agreement on rules that will surround the reopening of the company's ice cream plant in the state. Operations in Sylacauga, Alabama, were interupted April 20 when the company recalled all of its products while investigators tried to pinpoint the causes linking Blue Bell ice cream with a long-lasting outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections. Three people died in Kansas and seven other illnesses in Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma and Arizona have been confirmed as tied to Listeria bacteria in Blue Bell ice cream. The onset of illnesses ranges from 2010 to January 2015. According to terms of the latest deal, Alabama will go along with most of the same rules already determined for the upcoming reopening of Blue Bell ice cream manufacturing … [Read more...]

Blue Bell Listeria Agreements Require Ice Cream ‘Test and Hold’

Listeria patients who were treated at Via Christi St. Francis Hospital in Wichita as part of the Blue Bell ice cream outbreak, and hospital officials themselves, may be interested to hear that Blue Bell will be prohibited from distributing future products until sampling tests indicate that the ice cream is safe. The so-called "test-and-hold'' method is mandated under an agreement between Blue Bell's CEO Paul Kruse and the Texas Department of State Health Services. The Listeria agreement lays out conditions under which Blue Bell's ice cream facilities in Brenham will be allowed to resume production after a massive ice cream Listeria recall and shutdown of commercial manufacturing. A separate but similar agreement will apply the same standard to Blue Bell's plant in Broken Arrow, … [Read more...]

Food Safety Flaws Noted at Blue Bell’s Texas Ice Cream Plant

The Blue Bell ice cream plant associated with the highly publicized Kansas Listeria outbreak exhibited multiple food safety flaws noted by a group of 11 FDA inspectors who visited the facility during the last half of April. According to the report of inspectional observations by the group, the Blue Bell plant continued to manufacture ice cream products for several days after the company's own sampling found Listeria monocytogenes around a drain that was not in direct contact with food. And by then, the Texas Department of State Health Services had notified Blue Bell that Listeria monocytogenes had been found in products from the plant. The company itself confirmed Listeria findings in its Great Divide Bar and Chocolate Chip Country Cookie, the report said. One of the observations made … [Read more...]

Blue Bell Plants to Get Intensive Cleaning, Retraining, Re-engineering

Blue Bell Ice Cream announced an intensive cleaning, retraining and re-engineering plan to start next week to exterminate Listeria monocytogenes  -- the pathogen that led to a deadly outbreak of listeriosis in Kansas. Three people in Wichita are dead after contracting the disease last year. The FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have linked the illnesses to consumption of milkshakes made from Blue Bell ice cream from Brenham, Texas. Another cluster of listeriosis in Texas has been tied to Blue Bell ice cream made in Oklahoma. The company also has a manufacturing plant in Alabama and recently announced a complete recall of all its ice cream after once again finding the pathogen in line samples of its products. “We intend to make a fresh start,'' said Blue Bell CEO and … [Read more...]

Lawyer Discusses Filing Blue Bell Ice Cream Listeria Lawsuit

Food Poisoning Bulletin talked to attorney Ryan Osterholm about the Blue Bell ice cream Listeria monocytogenes outbreak and filing lawsuits. The CDC states that people have been sickened by Blue Bell products as far back as 2010. We asked Mr. Osterholm how this is possible. He said, "Listeriosis is a reportable illness. The Listeria bacteria is genetically fingerprinted in specialized labs known as 'PulseNet.'  If no genetic matches to other patients are found, no outbreak is announced. When this current outbreak was suspected, officials looked at the records and found genetic matches in PulseNet that added six cases, from 2010 to 2014, to the outbreak total. Thus, some of these patients were diagnosed with listeriosis five years ago, but the connection to Blue Bell ice cream wasn't … [Read more...]

Blue Bell Recalls ALL Ice Cream Products: More Listeria

Blue Bell Creameries has recalled all of its ice cream products today after two more samples tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes bacteria. The company issued the recall today on its web site. The recall covers ice cream made at all of its facilities. The recall is for all Blue Bell ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet, and frozen snacks currently for sale. The products are distributed to retail outlets, food service accounts, convenience stores, and supermarkets in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wyoming, and international locations. An enhanced sampling program that was initiated by Blue … [Read more...]

Blue Bell Ice Cream Back in Some Stores After Listeria Outbreak

Blue Bell ice cream Listeria recalls prompted many retailers across the U.S. to completely remove the brand from store shelves, but now the recalls are giving way to restocking decisions. Among the first companies to return shelf space to Blue Bell is San Antonio-based H-E-B Grocery Stores. A spokesperson for the chain of more than 350 stores told KTRK-TV that a gradual return has begun. Leslie Sweet of H-E-B said Blue Bell is a brand Texans know and love, but the grocery company had to stay true to its commitment to safe food when it removed the ice cream last month during a series of three different recalls by Blue Bell. The recalls were associated with deepening links between Blue Bell ice cream products and two clusters of listeriosis -- the first in Kansas and the second identified … [Read more...]

Dallas County Health Agency Issues Listeriosis Advisory in Texas

Three cases of listeriosis in Texas have been confirmed to be part of a multistate outbreak of Listeria illnesses related to Blue Bell ice cream products. That linkage has prompted a health advisory to the Dallas County medical community. The Texas Listeria advisory was issued by the Dallas County Health and Human Services agency to heighten awareness of the outbreak. The identical strain of Listeria monocytogenes that recently killed three hospital patients in Wichita, Kansas, also sickened three people in Texas between 2011 and 2014, the FDA has said. “While we have not received any reports of cases in Dallas County related to Blue Bell ice cream products, DCHHS is monitoring the situation to ensure we are abreast of any information related to this outbreak,” said Zachary Thompson, … [Read more...]

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