Q: What is happening with the recall?
A: Blue Bell Ice Cream of Brenham, Texas, is voluntarily recalling all of its products currently on the market made at all of its facilities, including ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet and frozen snacks, because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems.
Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headaches, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.
This does not mean that all the products are contaminated – we believe the vast majority are not – only that that they have the potential to be. We took the extra precaution of recalling all of them because we are committed to doing the 100 percent right thing, and the best way to do that is to take all of the products off the market until we can be confident they are safe.
Q: Why did you make such a substantial recall?
A: Our decision was the result of findings from an enhanced sampling program initiated by Blue Bell which revealed that Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream half gallons produced on March 17, 2015, and March 27, 2015, contained the bacteria. Because this new finding meant that Blue Bell has now had several positive tests for Listeria in different places and plants, we felt the safest thing for our customers was to voluntarily recall all our products.
Q: What have you changed to make things safe?
A: We are implementing additional safety procedures and testing, including:
- Expanding our already robust system of daily cleaning and sanitizing of equipment
- Expanding our system of swabbing and testing our plant environment by 800 percent to include more surfaces
- Sending samples daily to a leading microbiology laboratory for testing
- Providing additional employee training
Q: What should people do if they have Blue Bell products in their home?
A: Please return the product to the store where you purchased it for a full refund. Or, call 1-866-608-3940 if you would like a gift certificate instead.
Q: Should people eat old Blue Bell products?
A: Please don’t consume Blue Bell products. Instead, please return the product to the store where you purchased it for a refund.
Q: What should people do if they feel sick?
A: We encourage people with health concerns to seek advice from their doctors or other medical professionals.
Q: Who should people call?
A: Blue Bell has set up a special hotline with extended hours to make calling more convenient for our customers. Consumers with questions may call 1-866-608-3940, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. CST, and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. CST, or go to www.bluebell.com at any time for the most current information.
Q: When did you first learn that Listeria linked to Blue Bell was also linked to events dating back to 2010?
A: We were only notified in April 2015 that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) had performed research and linked the DNA fingerprint from the Listeria found in Blue Bell products to cases of Listeriosis dating back to 2010. The linkage was established retroactively using technology called whole genome sequencing, which has only recently been used to track Listeria outbreaks.