“We’re committed to doing the 100 percent right thing, and the best way to do that is to take all of our products off the market until we can be confident that they are all safe,” said Paul Kruse, Blue Bell CEO and president. “We are heartbroken about this situation and apologize to all of our loyal Blue Bell fans and customers. Our entire history has been about making the very best and highest quality ice cream and we intend to fix this problem. We want enjoying our ice cream to be a source of joy and pleasure, never a cause for concern, so we are committed to getting this right.”
Blue Bell’s total recall comes after it had initially issued a limited recall in March 2015 for some frozen snack items. Blue Bell then issued another recall on April 4 after 3 oz. institutional/food service chocolate cups tested positive for Listeria at its Broken Arrow, Oklahoma plant. That recall was later expanded to include all products made on a particular production line at the Broken Arrow plant after Banana Pudding Ice Cream pints tested positive on April 7.
“At every step, we have made decisions in the best interest of our customers based on the evidence we had available at the time,” Kruse said. “At this point, we cannot say with certainty how Listeria was introduced to our facilities and so we have taken this unprecedented step. We continue to work with our team of experts to eliminate this problem.”
Blue Bell is implementing a procedure called “test and hold” for all products made at all of its manufacturing facilities. This means that all products will be tested first and held for release to the market only after the tests show they are safe. The Broken Arrow facility will remain closed as Blue Bell continues to investigate. The company expects to resume distribution soon on a limited basis once it is confident in the safety of its product.
The U.S. Center for Disease Control recommends that consumers do not eat any Blue Bell brand products made at the Oklahoma production facility, nor any recalled products, and that retailers and institutions not serve or sell them. So far, the CDC has recorded 3 deaths in Kansas and 8 hospitalizations in Texas and Kansas due to the Blue Bell Listeria outbreak.
Blue Bell Ice Cream’s recalled products are distributed to retail outlets, including food service accounts, convenience stores and supermarkets in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wyoming and international locations.
Consumers who have purchased these items are urged to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund. For more information consumers with questions may call 1-866-608-3940 Monday – Friday 8 a.m. – 8 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. CST or go to bluebell.com.