UPDATE: 09/23/2016: Aspen Hills said its cookie dough product tested negative for listeria before it was shipped to Blue Bell, and the “positive listeria results were obtained by Blue Bell only after our product had been in their control for almost two months.”
Blue Bell blamed the problem on Aspen Hills, Inc., a third-party cookie dough supplier. Listeria was discovered by Blue Bell as part of a rigorous testing program implemented after the last outbreak.
The recalled ice cream was shipped to Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.
The recall is a setback for Blue Bell as it slowly returns to grocery stores. In April 2015, the company recalled every batch of ice cream and temporarily shut down a facility that had 17 positive Listeria tests since 2013.
The ice cream was linked to 10 cases of listeriosis in four states — Arizona (1), Kansas (5), Oklahoma (1), and Texas (3). All of the victims were hospitalized and three people in Kansas died. The earliest illnesses began in January 2010.
Listeria monocytogenes causes serious illnesses in people and animals, including mastitis in cows, which is why unpasteurized dairy products are often contaminated.
The problem is that Listeria is very common and it likes to grow in cold, wet environments. This makes it hard to eradicate from food processing facilities. It also survives freezing and thrives at refrigerator temperatures.
Infections with Listeria are rare, but nearly everyone develops an invasive infection. This occurs when the bacteria spreads to the bloodstream or nervous system and causes sepsis or meningitis. Infections can also cause premature birth, miscarriage, or stillbirth in pregnant women.
The symptoms of listeriosis can take between 11 and 70 days to appear, and may include:
- Flu-like symptoms
- Severe headache
- Stiff neck
- Muscle aches
- Nausea or vomiting
Source: Blue Bell Creameries