State and local health officials, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are collaborating to investigate an outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections (listeriosis) linked to certain Blue Bell brand ice cream products. Listeriosis is a life-threatening infection caused by eating food contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes.
Five people infected with one of four strains of Listeria monocytogenes were reported from Kansas. All five people were hospitalized at the same hospital for unrelated problems before developing invasive listeriosis—a finding that strongly suggests their infections were acquired in the hospital. Three deaths were reported among these five patients.
Of the four ill people for whom information is available on the foods eaten in the month before Listeria infection, all four consumed milkshakes made with a single-serving Blue Bell brand ice cream product called “Scoops” while they were in the hospital.
The Kansas Department of Agriculture’s (KDA) laboratory isolated Listeria monocytogenes from a previously unopened, single-serving Blue Bell brand 3-ounce institutional/food service chocolate ice cream cup obtained in March 2015 from the hospital associated with this outbreak.
These Blue Bell Creameries ice cream products were recalled.
On March 23, 2015, Blue Bell Ice Cream of Brenham, Texas, announced a recall of 3-ounce institutional/food service ice cream cups (with tab lids) of the following flavors: chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla. The CDC recommends that consumers do not eat recalled products and that institutions and retailers do not sell or serve them. Investigation into whether other products were produced on the same line as the 3-ounce institutional/food service ice cream cups is ongoing, and new information will be provided as it becomes available.
These Blue Bell Creameries ice cream products have been removed from the market.
Listeria monocytogenes was previously isolated from the following Blue Bell brand ice cream products collected from Blue Bell Creameries facilities in Texas, South Carolina, or both in 2015: ice cream Scoops, Chocolate Chip Country Cookie Sandwiches, and Great Divide Bars. Whole genome sequences of Listeria monocytogenes strains isolated from these ice cream products were highly related to sequences of Listeria strains isolated from four patients in this outbreak. Blue Bell Creameries reported that these products were removed from the market in March 2015. However, contaminated ice cream products may still be in the freezers of consumers, institutions and retailers.
The CDC recommends that consumers do not eat any products that Blue Bell Creameries recalled or removed from the market. A detailed list of products is available HERE.