Blue Bell Creameries told retailers Monday to pull all its products from stores nationwide because of the potential of listeriosis contamination, its first retail recall since bacteria in the company’s products were linked to illnesses last month.
The latest and largest recall by the 108-year-old Texas company includes ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet and frozen snacks manufactured at all its facilities.
The latest recall decision was made after listeriosis bacteria were found in half gallons of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream made on March 17 and March 27 the company said.
“This means Blue Bell has now had several positive tests for Listeria in different places and plants,” a statement on the company’s website said.
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The Brenham-based company issued its first recall in mid-March, mostly of productions sold to institutions. That came after health authorities determined that three people who died in a Kansas hospital has contracted listeria after eating Blue Bell ice cream products.
In April, the company shut down an Oklahoma facility after listeriosis was found in products made there
In a statement posted Monday, Blue Bell president Paul Kruse said, “Through further internal testing, we learned today that Listeria monocytogenes was found in an additional half gallon of ice cream in our Brenham facility. While we initially believed this situation was isolated to one machine in one room, we now know that was wrong. We need to know more to be completely confident that our products are safe for our customers.
“At this point, we cannot say with certainty how Listeria was introduced to our facilities. We continue to work with our team of experts to eliminate this problem
“We are heartbroken about this situation and apologize to all of our loyal Blue Bell fans and customers.”
Kroger stores started pulling cases of ice cream after the company was notified at 5 p.m. that there was a problem at the Blue Bell Brenham facility, said Gary Huddleston, a Kroger spokesman over Texas and Louisiana.
Kroger will call all customers who have registered their phone numbers on their Kroger-plus cards to bring Blue Bell products back to the store for a full refund.
An average store carries about 30 varieties of Blue Bell products, he said.
“We’ve removed them all from our shelves and placed them in a secure area in the back freezer,” he said. “Then we wait for instructions from Blue Bell. In past cases we have been instructed to destroy the products.”
All of the ice cream had been removed by 9 p.m. Monday.
“I’d say this is one of the larger recalls that we have dealt with,” Huddleston said.
Blue Bell expects to resume distribution soon on a limited basis once it is confident in the safety of its product, Kruse’s statement said.
Back in the Metroplex, locals took to social media Monday night tweeting and posting crying emoticons with the question, “Why, Blue Bell?” and “I just ate Blue Bell!”
Monica S. Nagy, 817-390-7792