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Blue Bell Issues an Ice Cream Recall Because of Possible Listeria. Again.

Shock of shocks, Blue Bell is once again pulling products because of listeria. 

Yep, more than a year after it was discovered that Blue Bell's ice cream plants had been putting out listeria-tainted ice cream for years — a revelation that led to various recalls, shutdowns, furloughs and layoffs in 2015, as we wrote in our cover story — the ice cream company has issued a recall because of a potential listeria contamination in its ice cream. 

On Wednesday Blue Bell issued a recall on 1,936 cases of ice cream made with cookie dough from Aspen Hills, Inc., a cookie dough supplier to the company. Blue Bell is pulling its "Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough-flavored ice cream and "Two Step" manufactured at the plants in Brenham and in Sylacauga, Alabama. The ice cream products with the contaminated cookie dough went out to Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.  

The recall posted on the company website swiftly outlines the official reasons the company made the decision to recall the ice cream:

"This voluntary recall has been initiated due to concerns of possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination. Consumption of this product may cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children and those with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer symptoms such as fever, headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and still births among pregnant women. To date the company has received no reports of illnesses."
The recall is being conducted in cooperation with the Food and Drug Administration for 578 cases of cookie dough from lot 9181 that were shipped out on July 26 from the company's Sylacauga plant. The company also shipped 309 cases from lot 9181 and 586 cases from lot 9213 on August 9 from the Brenham plant. The last shipment to go out that may have contained potentially contaminated ice cream — Blue Bell was careful to put a lot of qualifiers on another possible listeria problem in its plants — was on August 22, when 463 cases from lot 9252 were sent out from Brenham, according to the release. 

News of more listeria in the Brenham-based company's ice cream comes just two weeks after the company settled a lawsuit with a man who was living in Houston when, he claims, he contracted listeria from the frozen treats. 

On the upside, at least this means the company is actually testing the ice cream now, and not just the floor and surfaces of the plants where the ice cream is made — something Blue Bell was not doing in the years leading up to the listeria mess, as FDA records show.

However, we do have to wonder if the public will continue to be so forgiving about Blue Bell this time around. It's incredibly difficult to get rid of listeria contamination in a plant because it thrives in that kind of cold, damp environment, but it might just prove even more challenging for Blue Bell to shake off the damage to the company's reputation.

Or not.

We already know that most people rallied to the little creamery's cause after it was learned that five years of listeria-laced ice cream had been traced to ten people in four states who contracted listeria, with three of them dying, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Will anybody even bat an eye at this one 1,936-case voluntary recall of potentially listeria-tarnished frozen dairy goodness? Don't hold your breath on it. 
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Dianna Wray is a nationally award-winning journalist. Born and raised in Houston, she writes about everything from NASA to oil to horse races.
Contact: Dianna Wray