On Friday, Blue Bell Creameries, Brenham, Texas, said it is voluntarily suspending operations at its ice cream manufacturing plant in Broken Arrow, Okla. In statement, Blue Bell said it will “thoroughly inspect the facility for any possible problems that may have led to the contamination of some of our ice cream products in the past few weeks.” Read the complete press release here.
On March 13, Blue Bell announced a product recall, its first in 108 years of operation. It stated, “one of our machines produced a limited amount of frozen snacks with a potential listeria problem.” Then on March 23, a second statement noted that the FDA found Listeria bacteria in samples of Blue Bell Chocolate Chip Country Cookies, Great Divide Bars and individually packaged SCOOPS. Seven other products made on the same production line were also recalled: individually packaged Sour Pop Green Apple Bar, Cotton Candy Bar, Almond Bar and Vanilla Stick Slices and 6-pack Cotton Candy Bars, 6-pack Sour Pop Green Apple Bars and 12-pack NSA Mooo Bars. Regular Mooo Bars are not included.
The frozen snack items were distributed 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 and Wyoming via select stores and food service accounts.
On March 22, the Kansas Department of Health & Environment reported one positive test for Listeria monocytogenes on a chocolate institutional/food service cup recovered from a hospital in Wichita, Kansas. This cup was produced in the Broken Arrow, Oklahoma plant on April 15, 2014.
According to the recall notice, L. monocytogenes is “an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems.”
With regard to the plant closure, the Blue Bell statement said: “We are taking this step out of an abundance of caution to ensure that we are doing everything possible to provide our consumers with safe products and to preserve the trust we have built with them and their families for more than a century.”
Dairy Foods reported on the company’s flagship ice cream plant in Brenham, Texas. See “Inside the ice cream plant: Blue Bell has big ideas” and a related article “Blue Bell ice cream blossoms with flavors.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has published this consumer fact sheet, “How can I reduce my risk for listeriosis?” on its website.