Blue Bell Has 2nd Listeria Scare While on the Rebound

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A second Listeria scare for the still-recovering ice cream manufacturer

Blue Bell Creameries, which almost shut its doors for good in 2015 after a nasty Listeria outbreak that left three dead, has issued a recall of several ice cream products over fears they may containice cream harsh white on black Listeria once again. Although Blue Bell is placing chocolate chip cookie dough ingredient supplier Aspen Hills, Inc. firmly in the hot seat with its statement, the situation has to be shaking the still-building confidence of consumers.

Blue Bell Ice Cream is voluntarily recalling select products produced in its Sylacauga, Alabama, plant because they were made with a chocolate chip cookie dough ingredient supplied by a third party supplier Aspen Hills, Inc., due to the potential for it to contain Listeria monocytogenes.

Listeria monocytogenes 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 headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

The products can be identified by the code date found on the bottom of the carton. The products produced with the chocolate chip cookie dough pieces were distributed in the following ten states Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.

No illnesses have been reported to date. Blue Bell identified a potential problem through intensified internal testing and notified Aspen Hills. Aspen Hills then issued a voluntary recall of the products supplied to Blue Bell. Although our products in the marketplace have passed our test and hold program, which requires that finished product samples test negative for Listeria monocytogenes, Blue Bell is initiating this recall out of an abundance of caution. This recall is being conducted in cooperation with the FDA.

Consumers should not eat the recalled products and are encouraged to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund.

We continue to work closely with our regulatory agencies, and we remain committed to ensuring we are producing safe products for our consumers to enjoy. For more information, consumers with questions may call 979-836-7977, Monday – Friday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. CST.

We were critical of Blue Bell’s communications for its last recall for their lack of compassion, and you see the same issue here. This is a contamination that has the potential to kill people, most likely the young or elderly. Yet, instead of reassuring stakeholders that their concerns are understood and that everything possible is being done to ensure their safety there is only the brief, almost throwaway line, “we remain committed to ensuring we are producing safe products for our consumers to enjoy”.

It’s entirely possible this issue was unavoidable on Blue Bell’s part, but that doesn’t mean they’re absolved of a responsibility to communicate well. A second recall for the same issue that took product off shelves entirely until less than a year ago is cause for concern, and Blue Bell’s response should reflect that in spades.

Erik Bernstein

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