New Listeria Concerns, Blue Bell Issues Recall

blue-bellEarlier this year, the food industry was plagued by a listeria outbreak that lead to a massive recall of everything from candy to dairy products. Among the companies who faced these recalls, Blue Bell was, perhaps, among the more prominent. You may recall that, in January Blue Bell had said it found “suspected listeria species” throughout its Brenham facility, though they were not able to confirm any products contaminated by the bacteria.

You may also recall that Blue Bell Creameries volunteered to suspend operations at an Oklahoma production facility in 2015 following the death of three people in Kansas, in relation to the consumption of ice cream products found to be contaminated with listeria.

While the company had taken the time to examine—and sanitize—its distribution chain, it appears they may need another go around. This time, Blue Bell is recalling ice cream shipped to stores in the South. This includes the states of: Virginia, Georgia, Mississippi, Kentucky, Tennessee, Louisiana, Florida, Alabama, and North and South Carolina. Texas, which was a major target of the initial recall, was not included this time.

Also, Blue Bell has commented that no illnesses have been reported so far.
In a statement, the company says, “Although our products in the marketplace have passed our test-and-hold program, which requires that finished product samples test negative for Listeriamonocytogenes, Blue Bell is initiating this recall out of an abundance of caution.”

The initial Listeria discovery was in a package of chocolate chip cookie dough from a third-party supplier (Aspen Hills) intended for use as an ingredient. The recall, then, is for half gallons and pints of Blue Bell Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream as well as half gallons of Blue Bell Two Step.

Of course, the discovery of Listeria throughout the food industry is never a good thing. This bacteria is particularly difficult to get rid of mostly because it can survive in variosu conditions, unlike other food-borne bacteria like, for example, E. coli.
UNT Health Science Center associate professor Rance Berg, of Fort Worth, TX, explains, “It can survive low temperatures…certainly freezing is not a problem at all. It can survive in minus zero [temperature] conditions.”

Again, no illnesses have been reported, but Berg advises that anyone who has a compromised immune system—children and the elderly, also pregnant women—are more likely to experience severe symptoms. These symptoms could include fever, nausea, and diarrhea.