Business Strategies / Food Safety / Industry News

Small Blue Bell Ice Cream Recall Mushrooms into Bigger Recall

By Dave Fusaro, Editor in Chief

Apr 22, 2015

What started out a month ago for Blue Bell Ice Cream as a small recall of institutional-sized ice cream cups made in an Oklahoma plant has turned into a recall of all products throughout the country produced at all Blue Bell facilities.

On March 22, the Kansas Dept. of Health & Environment reported one positive test for Listeria monocytogenes on a chocolate institutional/foodservice cup recovered from a hospital in Wichita, Kan. That cup was produced in the Broken Arrow, Okla., plant on April 15, 2014 – that's right, the FDA said it was made a year ago. Blue Bell promptly recalled all 3 oz. institutional/foodservice ice cream cups.

In the wake of that recall, an enhanced sampling program initiated by Blue Bell found listeria in chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream half gallons produced on March 17 and 27 of this year and at the main Brenham, Texas, plant. Altogether, Blue Bell recorded several positive tests for listeria in different places and plants, and five people were treated in Kansas and three in Texas after testing positive for listeria.

So Blue Bell began a complete recall on April 20. The company is implementing a “test and hold” procedure 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.

“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.”