Blue Bell closes facility on listeria concern

Blue Bell closes facility on listeria concern

Blue Bell Creameries has suspended production at its Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, production facility in the wake of a listeria outbreak linked to three fatalities.

The US company initially recalled ten products from the market after the consumption of its single-serve ice cream and milkshake products was connected to the contraction of listeria in five hospital patients in Kansas. Subsequently, Blue Bell extended the recall to include chocolate, strawberry and vanilla three-ounce food-service ice cream cups.

The contaminated scoop single-serve milkshake products were manufactured at the Blue Bell production facility in Brenham, Texas. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, investigators later traced single-serve Blue Bell brand ice cream collected from the hospital in Kansas to the Oklahoma site.

CDC said it has identified an additional six cases of listeria between 2010 and 2014 that could potentially be linked to Blue Bell products. "Investigation to determine whether these illnesses are related to exposure to Blue Bell products is ongoing," the food safety watchdog said.

The company has since suspended operations at the facility in Oklahoma.

"We will then thoroughly inspect the facility for any possible problems that may have led to the contamination of some of our ice cream products in the past few weeks," the company said in a statement. "Our other plants continue to operate and supply our products to retail stores and institutional customers."