Listeria in Blue Bell ice cream

This is really inexcusable on the part of Blue Bell:

Blue Bell, which is based in Texas, said it recalled the products after two half-gallon containers of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, produced on March 17 and 27, tested positive for the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes.

Five people in Kansas appear to have been sickened from January 2014 through January 2015 while they were hospitalized for unrelated conditions, the C.D.C. said. Of the five, four are known to have had milkshakes at the hospital made with a Blue Bell ice cream called Scoops and two other products made at Blue Bell’s plant in Brenham, Tex.

The Texas patients also developed listeriosis, the condition of being sickened by listeria, after being hospitalized for unrelated reasons from 2011 through 2014. Tests on the genome of the strains with which they were infected “were nearly identical” to strains found at Blue Bell’s plant in Broken Bow, Okla., the C.D.C. said.

Tests are being conducted to see whether three other patients infected with listeriosis between 2010 and 2012 were related to the Blue Bell outbreak, the C.D.C. said.

Blue Bell began removing ice cream products from the market on March 13 after the health authorities reported that they suspected a connection between the Kansas infections and products made by Blue Bell’s Texas plant, the Food and Drug Administration said.

So, people started getting sick in 2011.  It was connected to products from a specific plant starting last year, and they just now, last month, March 2015, found the bacteria in 2 (!!) cartons of product from that plant, and a second plant has also been implicated through genetic testing.  That last part is a little vague, as to how they connected the strain of bacteria to the Oklahoma plant.

If you have worked in food manufacturing, you know how ridiculous this is.  It’s complete negligence on the part of management.  You can test product, as well as surfaces in the production facility, for this bacteria.  They should have found it and eliminated it as soon as there was a suspicion.

There should be some consequence for this.  I would start with criminal charges for upper management.


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