The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention recommends that consumers avoid eating Blue Bell ice cream products and businesses avoid serving them after a deadly Listeria outbreak has been tied to the ice cream maker. Blue Bell ice cream has been gradually recalling its products but recently it went ahead and recalled all items, including its ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet, and frozen treats.
Thus far, ten cases and three deaths have been confirmed in four states: Arizona, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Texas. Five cases in Kansas has been linked to the same hospital where at least four patients drank milkshakes made with Blue Bell ice cream that was contaminated with Listeria. All confirmed cases have been hospitalized.
CNN reported that “undefinedn a separate outbreak in Texas, three patients were infected with listeria between 2011 and 2014. Tests of those listeria strains "were nearly identical to Listeria strains isolated from ice cream produced at the Blue Bell Creameries' Oklahoma facility," the CDC said.
Blue Bell ice cream has confirmed that tests have shown that some of its half gallon containers of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream were contaminated with Listeria.
Listeriosis is a deadly infection caused by the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. It’s most dangerous to pregnant women, newborns, adults over 65, and those with weakened immune systems.
“This is a complex and ongoing multistate outbreak investigation of listeriosis illnesses occurring over several years. Several strains of Listeria monocytogenes are involved in this outbreak. Information indicates that various Blue Bell brand products are the source of this outbreak,” confirmed the CDC in a statement.
In the past few years Listeria has been linked to a number of recalled products including caramel apples, sprouted soy products, cheese, and other dairy products. While Listeria infections are rare, they are particularly scary because the bacterium can be so deadly when it does cause an infection.
While common food safety tips like using separate cutting boards for produce and meat, carefully cleaning produce, and properly cooling and heating foods are recommended, many of the recalls are caused by products to which these tips would not have stopped contamination. In those cases, simply heeding Listeria recall warnings would have been the only way to prevent the illness.
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