Blue Bell recall focused on ice cream bars not half gallons, quarts, or pints

Tainted Blue Bell products were served at a Kansas hospital to patients. The suspect ice cream were mostly food service items and not produced for retail store sales, said the Blue Bell CEO.

(AP Photo/Kim Johnson Flodin)
A Blue Bell ice cream container. The deaths of three people was linked to some Blue Bell ice cream products and has prompted the Texas icon’s first product recall in its 108-year history.

The deaths of three people after eating some Blue Bell ice cream products have prompted the Texas company's first product recall in its 108-year history.

Five people were diagnosed as having listeriosis in Kansas after eating products from one production line at the Blue Bell creamery in Brenham, Texas, according to a statement Friday from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA says listeria bacteria were found in samples of Blue Bell Chocolate Chip Country Cookies, Great Divide Bars, Sour Pop Green Apple Bars, Cotton Candy Bars, Scoops, Vanilla Stick Slices, Almond Bars and No Sugar Added Moo Bars.

Blue Bell says its regular Moo Bars were untainted, as were all Blue Bell half gallons, quarts, pints, cups, three-gallon ice cream and take-home frozen snack novelties.

According to a Friday statement from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, all five of the people who became ill were already receiving treatment for unrelated health issues at the same Kansas hospital, "a finding that strongly suggests their infections (with listeria bacteria) were acquired in the hospital," the CDC said.

Of those five, information was available from four on what foods they had eaten in the month before the infection. All four had consumed milkshakes made with a single-serving Blue Bell ice cream product called "Scoops" while in the hospital, the CDC said.

"Scoops," as well as the other suspect Blue Bell items, are mostly food service items and not produced for retail, said Paul Kruse, CEO of the Brenham creamery.

The CDC said the bacteria from patients at Via Christi St. Francis hospital in Wichita, Kansas, matched strains from Blue Bell products obtained this year in South Carolina and Texas.

"Via Christi was not aware of any listeria contamination in the Blue Bell Creameries ice cream products and immediately removed all Blue Bell Creameries products from all Via Christi locations once the potential contamination was discovered," spokeswoman Maria Loving said in a statement Friday to The Associated Press.

Via Christi has eight hospitals in Kansas and Oklahoma.

Blue Bell handles all of its own distribution and customer service, Kruse said, so it moved to pull suspect products from shelves, as soon as it was alerted to the South Carolina contamination Feb. 13. Kruse did not suspect handling of those products after they left the Central Texas creamery.

"The only time it can be contaminated is at the time of production," he said. That contamination has been traced to a machine that extrudes the ice cream into forms and onto cookies, and that machine remains off line, he said.

All products now on store and institution shelves are safe, Kruse said.

However, "Contaminated ice cream products may still be in the freezers of consumers, institutions, and retailers, given that these products can have a shelf life of up to 2 years," the CDC statement said. CDC recommends that consumers do not eat products that Blue Bell Creameries removed from the market, and institutions and retailers should not serve or sell them.

___

Clayton contributed from Topeka, Kansas. Associated Press writer Mary Clare Jalonick in Washington also contributed to this report.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.