Hospital Ice Cream Recall Issued After Listeria Poisoning Outbreak, Deaths

Ice cream and milkshake products sold to hospitals have been recalled, following at least five reports of patients infected with strains of listeria monocytogens, three of whom died. 

A Blue Bell Creameries ice cream and milk shake recall was announced on March 15, after by the FDA, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment warned that the products may be contaminated with listeria, a serious and potentially life-threatening food-borne bacteria.

The agencies report that all of the reported cases of listeria food poisoning have occurred at one Kansas hospital, after they all came in for unrelated illnesses. Investigators indicate that four of the patients consumed milkshakes made with a single-serving Blue Bell brand ice cream product called “Scoops.”

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According to outbreak information provided by the CDC, at least three strains of Listeria monocytogenes have been found in Blue Bell ice cream in South Carolina and Texas. The strains were the same as those found in the patients.

The manufacturer has acknowledged that the problems appear to be related to a particular machine, and that all potentially afected products have been removed from stores and inventories.

The Blue Bell Creameries recall affects the following products and product codes:

  •  Chocolate Chip Country Cookie, SKU# 196
  •  Great Divide bar, SKU# 108
  •  Sour Pop Green Apple Bar, SKU# 221
  •  Cotton Candy Bar, SKU# 216
  •  Scoops, SKU# 117
  •  Vanilla Stick Slices, SKU# 964
  •  Almond bars, SKU# 156
  •  6 Pack Cotton Candy Bars, SKU# 245
  •  6 pack Sour Pop Green Apple Bars, SKU# 249
  •  12 pack No Sugar Added Mooo Bars, SKU# 343

The recall does not affect Blue Bell cups, pints or half gallons.

The CDC and the FDA are moving quickly to investigate this issue to learn as much as possible to prevent additional people from becoming ill and recognize that a widespread contamination of listeria monocytogen strains in hospitals could jeopardize many peoples safety.

Listeria may cause serious and sometimes fatal infection in carriers and especially those with weakened immune systems such as young children, pregnant women, and the elderly. Pregnant women who consume listeria tainted products may be at an increased risk for miscarriages or still-births.

Symptoms of listeria infection typically include nausea, muscle ache, diarrhea, fever, and fatigue. Some cases of listeria may become more life threatening when the infection moves through the bloodstream into the nervous system resulting in sometimes fatal infections.

The FDA warns consumers with the affected products in their freezers to throw them away, even if they have eaten some without becoming ill.

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