Just when you thought it was safe to buy Blue Bell ice cream again, the company has announced that it is recalling all of its products. The news comes just days after local grocery stores started restocking their shelves.
On April 4, Texas-based grocery store H-E-B pulled all Blue Bell products from its shelves in response to a listeria bacteria scare that may have contributed to the deaths of three people in Kansas City. At the time, the company assured consumers that the bacteria had only been found in institutionally packaged single-serving cups provided to large facilities such as hospitals. Sam's Club and Kroger quickly followed H-E-B's lead in also removing the ice cream brand's offerings from store shelves.
On April 14, H-E-B announced that it was restocking after assurances from Blue Bell that all its products were safe.
Last night, Blue Bell announced a voluntary recall of all products because listeria bacteria had been found in half gallons of the company's Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream produced on both March 17 and March 27. Up to now, it was thought that the presence of the bacteria was limited to facilities in Oklahoma and Texas, but Blue Bell has now found the bacteria present "in different places and plants," according to its website.
Listeria monocytogenes is a bacterium that can cause deadly food poisoning, especially in older adults, pregnant women, newborns and adults with weakened immune systems. Pregnant women are especially at risk, as according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the disease can cause miscarriage and stillbirth. Others may experience headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions in addition to fever and muscle aches.
There is no word at this time about when Blue Bell ice cream will be available again. A statement on the company's web site says:
"We're committed to doing the 100 percent 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," said Paul Kruse, Blue Bell CEO and president. "We are heartbroken about this situation and apologize to all of our loyal Blue Bell fans and customers. Our entire history has been about making the very best and highest quality ice cream and we intend to fix this problem. We want enjoying our ice cream to be a source of joy and pleasure, never a cause for concern, so we are committed to getting this right."
Blue Bell is urging consumers who have purchased these items to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund. People with questions should call Blue Bell's customer helpline at 1-866-608-3940.