Blue Bell Creameries has recalled its product from all retail stores due to possible Listeria contamination. The Blue Bell Creameries are currently working towards finding solutions to fix the contamination issues, in order to prevent further recalls from happening in the future.
The recall includes taking all of the products such as ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet, and frozen snacks, off the market until the problem solved. CEO and President of the Texas-based company, Paul Kruse, told WBIR, they were heartbroken about the situation, and are committed to do right by being safe, and by removing all the products from the market. The company’s history has been about making the very best products for their customers, and fixing the problem is their main concern.
Blue Bell Creameries is working towards fixing contamination issues, which arose after results from a new enhanced sampling program created by Blue Bell that showed its half gallon Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream, made on March 17 and March 27, contained the Listeria bacteria. Listeria monocytogenes is a bacteria which leads to infections that sickens or kill elder adults, pregnant women, and adults with weak immune systems.
Listeria is an organism that is found in soil and water. Animals can carry the bacteria without any signs; and it contaminates foods that comes from animals such as dairy products, and meats. The bacteria is also found in raw foods as well as processed foods. The bacteria is usually destroyed once food is cooked or processed, but contamination can also occur after cooking and right before packaging.
The Center of Disease Control (CDC), has began to work continuously to correct any contamination sources. Blue Bell Creameries has had several positive tests within their distribution plants. The CDC has also confirmed that 10 people have suffered from the bacteria since 2010, and are now connected to the recent outbreak. All 10 were hospitalized and three in Kansas have died. CDC has recommended to all retailers to stop selling the product, and customers that have recently purchased the brand to not consume the product.
Twenty three states such as, Tennessee, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Wyoming, and international locations will all be affected by the recall. Blue Bell has gone into brand management crisis mode, and its website has been taken over by ads displaying the company’s President apology statement.
A procedure called test and hold will take place to determine if all products made at the manufacturing facilities are safe for distribution. The procedure will ensure that all products are tested and held before release to the market until results indicate that the products are safe. Until this procedure is put in place, the Broken Arrow, OH facility will be closed until investigations have been completed. Kruse told Food Safety News that the company did not know how the Listeria was introduced into the facility, and they are working with their team to eliminate the problem as soon as possible.
In addition to the test and hold procedure, Blue Bell Creameries plans to expand their safety steps to prevent future contamination from taking place. They are adding more daily cleaning routines, carefully sanitizing equipment, expanding their swabbing system, and testing the plants environment to include more surfaces. The are also sending daily samples to a leading microbiology laboratory, and adding more safety training for their employees.
Blue Bell Creameries hopes to begin distributing its products soon, but the CDC believes they will be off the market for at least two to three weeks. As far as sales, the CEO will need more than an apology to its customers in order for people to want to continue to eat the product again, since its recall was triggered by serious illnesses and deaths.
Blue Bell Creameries and the CDC are working to find solutions that will prevent prevent future recalls. Customers that purchased their products are asked to return the merchandise back to the retailer for a full refund. If consumers have any additional questions, they can call 1-866-608-3940, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. CDT. Symptoms such as sudden onset of vomiting, chills, gastrointestinal symptoms, severe headache, fever, influenza-type symptoms, muscle aches, and sometimes nausea or diarrhea (diarrhea lasts up to 1-4 days), medical assistance should be contacted immediately.
By Krystle Mitchell