Do Not Eat Certain Blue Bell Ice Cream Products Due to Listeria, CDC Warns

Posted by Eric Troy on 04 Apr 2015 19:16

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The CDC has recently traced an outbreak of Listeria to the Broken Arrow, Oklahoma production facility of the Blue Bell Ice Cream company. There have been 5 people hospitalized with listeriosis, and 3 deaths due to the illness. Recalls have been issued and Blue Bell has suspended operations at the Oklahoma plant.

The initial announcement of the outbreak was on March 13, 2015. The CDC and the FDA collaborated to investigate an outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections and the agencies found that the certain Blue Bell brand ice cream products were the most likely sources. All of the infected were from Kansas and they were all patients in the same hospital, Via Christi St. Francis in Wichita, for unrelated problems. These infections stretched from December 2013 to January 2015.

Since this seemed to indicate that the listeria infections were probably acquired while the patients were in at the hospital, meaning that the listeria contamination came from within the hospital, the investigation was able to trace it to cups of chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla ice cream called "Scoops." At least four of the infected patients had bee served milkshakes made with these ice cream products.


The ice cream cups, which are shipped to 23 states, are special products that are not sold in any retail stores, but are only shipped to institutions such as hospitals, nursing homes, and schools. However, due to the outbreak, the plant has been closed and many other retail products made in the Oklahoma plant have been recalled. The Blue Bell Ice Cream company has been in operation for 108 years, and this is its first recall.


These are images of the Blue Bell ice cream products
that have been recalled.


These are images of the Blue Bell ice cream products
that have been recalled.

An unopened container of Scoops from the Kansas hospital was tested by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) and was found to yield Listeria monocytogenese. The product had been produced in the Broken Arrow, Oklahoma Plant.

Also, Department of Health and Environmental Control, in an unrelated investigation, had collected some Blue Bell products from a distribution center in 2015, Chocolate Chip Country Cookie Sandwiches and Great Divide Bars, and found that they were contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. In response to this, Texas Department of State Health Services collected product samples from the Blue Bell Creameries production facility in Brenham, Texas. They found Listeria in the same two products, as well as in ice cream Scoops, from the same production line. The strain was indistinguishable from that of four of the patients. The products were made in the Blue Bell's Texas facility. This led to a recall and a shut-down of the production line.

For all of the CDC reports and more information consult the CDC website.

The retail products manufactured at the plant and recalled from the market are the Blue Bell products:

Product Name Product Code UPC Code
Chocolate Chip Country Cookie SKU #196 71899-21169
Great Divide Bar SKU #108 71899-21178
Sour Pop Green Apple Bar SKU #221 71899-21208
Cotton Candy Bar SKU #216 71899-21207
Scoops SKU #117 71899-00701
Vanilla Stick Slices SKU #964 N/A
Almond Bars SKU #156 71899-21138
6 Pk Cotton Candy Bars SKU #245 71899-62257
6 Pk Sour Pop Green Apple Bars SKU #249 71899-62258
12 Pk No Sugar Added Mooo Bars SKU #343 71899-62305

Only the No Sugar Added Mooo Bars were recalled. The regular Mooo Bars were not affected. To identify if a product was manufactured at the Oklahoma facility, the CDC advises to look for one of the special identifying letters, printed after the code on the bottom of the package: "O,” “P,” “Q,” “R,” “S,” and “T”


The code on the bottom of the package is a date code and the letter indicates that the product was made in the Oklahoma plant. If you find any of these Blue Bell products in your freezer, throw them out. Be aware that you should still discard the product even if some of the ice cream has previously been eaten and nobody became sick. If you have Blue Bell products in your freezer but you are not sure whether they are a part of the recall, throw them out anyway. Only keep products that you can be certain of, because their letter code does not match on of those that identify the Oklahoma facility.

These recalled ice cream products were shipped to to 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.

Blue Bell is examining the plant to isolate the cause of the contamination and will fix any problems and ensure the safety of the plant before reopening the facility and resuming production.

Amy's Kitchen, maker of organic food products, has also initiated a recall of many products due to possible listeria contamination of the spinach from one of its suppliers. See more on the Amy's Kitchen Listeria recall.

Update: Blue Bell Recall Expanded

As of April 7, 2015, Blue Bell has expanded its recall of products produced in the Oklahoma plant to include its pint containers of Banana Pudding ice cream, and other products produced on the same manufacturing line. These additional recalls were initiated after the FDA informed the company that Banana Pudding Ice Cream pints tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes. The additional products in the recall are listed below, but no new illnesses have been reported. For these products, a code date ending in an S or a T is given. This code can be found on the bottoms of the containers, as in the image above.

Product Code Date
Ice Cream Banana Pudding pint 021217S
Ice Cream Butter Crunch pint 021917S
Ice Cream Mint Chocolate Chip pint 022017S
Ice Cream Cookies 'n Cream pint 030317S, 030617S
Ice Cream Homemade Vanilla pint 030417S
Ice Cream Dutch Chocolate pint 032317S
Ice Cream Moo-llennium Crunch pint 032417S, 032517S
Rainbow Sherbet pint 021717S, 021817S, 022317S, 030217S
Orange Sherbet quart 032617S
Mixed Berry Sherbet quart 032717S
Rainbow Sherbet institutional only cups 022417S, 022617S, 022717S
Ice Cream Homemade Vanilla half gallon 030917T, 031017T, 031117T, 031217T, 031717T, 031717T, 031817T
Ice Cream Pistachio Almond half gallon 031317T
Ice Cream Homemade Vanilla Light half gallon 031917T

See the FDA announcement for the additional Blue Bell recalls.

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