Blue Bell recalls all its products worldwide because of Listeria concerns

Blue Bell Creameries recalls all its products -- yes, all of them -- because of Listeria concerns

Blue Bell Creameries recalled all of its products worldwide Monday because of Listeria concerns, the company confirmed to the Los Angeles Times.

The company, based in Brenham, Texas, is recalling all products, including ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet and frozen snacks, because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, according to a statement from the company.

“We’re committed to doing the 100% right thing, and the best way to do that is to take all of our products off the market until we can be confident that they are all safe,” Chief Executive Paul Kruse said in the statement. “We are heartbroken about this situation and apologize to all of our loyal Blue Bell fans and customers.”

Infection with Listeria bacteria can cause fever and muscle aches, gastrointestinal symptoms and, in serious cases, death. It is most dangerous to newborns, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems. It can be treated with antibiotics. 

Five patients have been treated in Kansas and three in Texas after testing positive for the bacteria, Blue Bell said.

Monday’s decision was made after “an enhanced sampling program” revealed that chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream produced March 17 and March 27 contained the bacteria, the company said.

“This means Blue Bell has now had several positive tests for Listeria in different places and plants,” it said.

Blue Bell said it distributes products to retail outlets, including food service accounts, convenience stores and supermarkets, in 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, Wyoming and international locations.

The company does not distribute to stores in California, but the brand does have a presence in the state.

Outback Steakhouse restaurants, for example, typically use Blue Bell ice cream in their desserts. But after Blue Bell issued smaller recalls in recent weeks, the chain told its franchises to switch to another brand, one restaurant’s manager told The Times.

“We haven’t used Blue Bell in about a month,” said Tom Rummel, manager of an Outback Steakhouse in Burbank.

Blue Bell said it will now follow a “test and hold” procedure for all products made at all of its facilities, meaning “all products will be tested first and held for release to the market only after the tests show they are safe.”

“Blue Bell expects to resume distribution soon on a limited basis once it is confident in the safety of its product,” the company said.

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Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times


8:17 p.m.: This story has been updated with comments from Outback Steakhouse restaurant manager Tom Rummel.

The first version of this story was published at 8:01 p.m.