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Five KS patients sickened, 3 die, possibly from listeriosis contamination in Blue Bell ice cream

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DALLAS -- State and federal agencies are investigating an outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections (listeriosis) linked to certain Blue Bell brand ice cream products, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

According to the CDC, five adults were hospitalized at the same hospital for unrelated problems before developing invasive listeriosis. Of the five ill people, information  is available on the foods eaten by four of them in the month before Listeria infection. The information states that all four consumed milkshakes made with a single-serving Blue Bell brand ice cream product called “Scoops” while they were in the hospital.

Three of the people infected died.

Paul Kruse, the president of Blue Bell Creameries, said the ill patients were at Via Christi Hospital in Wichita when they received the ice cream. Kruse said a piece of equipment inside the company’s factory was most likely not sanitized.

“It’s pretty clear that there was a problem with that equipment and in the end some of the products that went out was not like it should have been,” Kruse told FOX 4 on Friday. “It’s a terrible thing for the people affected as well as for our people who feel like they failed.”

Isolated testing of Blue Bell products in South Carolina and Texas yielded more evidence of listeriosis. The Blue Bell brand ice cream products with tests showing Listeria monocytogenes were ice cream Scoops, Chocolate Chip Country Cookie Sandwiches and Great Divide Bars.

"It’s a complex machine and you’ve got to be sure that it’s totally clean and sanitized and everything,” Kruse said. “Apparently that didn’t take place.”

Blue Bell Creameries reported that these products were removed from the market in March 2015. However, the contaminated ice cream products may still be in the freezers of consumers, institutions and retailers, the CDC said.

Consumers should check their freezers for any of these products and throw them away, even if some of the product has been eaten and no one has become ill. These products can have a shelf-life of up to 2 years.

Here's the full statement from Blue Bell:

For the first time in 108 years, Blue Bell announces a product recall. One of our machines produced a limited amount of frozen snacks with a potential listeria problem. When this was detected all products produced by this machine were withdrawn.  Our Blue Bell team members recovered all involved products in stores and storage. This withdrawal in no way includes our half gallons, quarts, pints, cups, three gallon ice cream or the majority of take-home frozen snack novelties.For more information call 979-836-7977, Monday – Friday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. CST.

Product Name Product Code
Chocolate Chip Country Cookie SKU # 196
Great Divide Bar SKU #108
Sour Pop Green Apple Bar SKU #221
Cotton Candy Bar SKU #216
Scoops SKU #117
Vanilla Stick Slices SKU #964
Almond Bars SKU #156
6 pack Cotton Candy Bars SKU #245
6 pack Sour Pop Green Apple Bars SKU #249
12 pack No Sugar Added Mooo Bars* SKU #343
  • Regular Mooo Bars are not included)

Listeriosis is a serious infection usually caused by eating food contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. Symptoms of listeriosis include fever, muscle aches, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions. Symptoms begin three to 70 days after consuming the bacteria.

The disease primarily affects older adults, pregnant women, newborns and adults with weakened immune systems.

Anyone who believes they may have become ill with listeriosis should contact their health care provider.