On April 20, 2015, Blue Bell recalled all products following the news that many of its products are contaminated with Listeria, a bacterium that causes a serious infection. This recall is the fourth recall issued by Blue Bell regarding Listeria contamination. Products produced in Blue Bell’s factories in Oklahoma and Texas caused 10 cases of Listeria across the southern and southwestern United States. There were three cases in Texas, one case in Oklahoma, one case in Arizona, and five cases in Kansas. Out of the five cases in Kansas, there were three deaths. Listeria was also found in the Alabama Blue Bell factory, but no cases resulted from this contamination.
The cases of Listeria began happening in 2010, and continued until 2014. In February of 2015, a lab in South Carolina found Listeria in Blue Bell products. An outbreak was confirmed after Listeria samples from Blue Bell products matched with a string of cases in Kansas. All patients had consumed Blue Bell Ice Cream. Three separate strains of Listeria were eventually found. The FDA later found 26 violations in Blue Bell factories during health and safety inspections.
Listeria is a very serious infection. Its symptoms include headaches, stiff neck, fever, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. People who are pregnant, over the age of 65, or have a suppressed immune system are at a higher risk for being infected with Listeria. After infection, it may take up to 70 days for symptoms to appear.
Blue Bell has vowed to change their procedures to prevent further infection. They are going to implement a practice called “test and hold,” which involves the testing of products before release for sale. “Test and hold” is one of the five practices that Blue Bell will be implementing in order to prevent any future contamination.