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Beware of some Blue Bell novelty products

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Courtesy photos
Great Divide Bars, No Sugar Added Mooo Bars and Cotton Candy Bars were just three novelty ice cream products produced by Blue Belle Creameries in Brenham that are being recalled due to possible contamination with Listeria monocytogenes.

Administrators with the Federal Drug Administration on Friday, March 13, issued a consumer advisory about several Blue Bell ice cream products made in Texas.
The notice was issued after five confirmed cases of Listeriosis in Kansas were linked to products made on a single production line at the Blue Bell Creameries plant in Brenham. All five patients affected were adults and three deaths have been reported.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, the patients treated in a single hospital in Kansas were infected with one of four rare strains of Listeria monocytogenes. Three of these highly similar strains were also found in products manufactured at Blue Bell Creameries in Brenham. Illness onset dates range from January 2014 to January 2015.
Additionally, the FDA was notified that these three strains and four other rare strains of Listeria monocytogenes had been detected in samples of Blue Bell Creameries single-serving Chocolate Chip Country Cookie Sandwich and the Great Divide Bar ice cream products distributed in South Carolina. These samples were collected during routine product sampling at a South Carolina distribution center on Feb. 12.
Recent laboratory tests of three ice cream products from the Brenham production line - Country Cookie, Great Divide and Scoops - indicated the presence of Listeria monocytogenes, a bacterium that can cause severe illness. The company is calling back additional ice cream items that were made on the same production line.
As a result, Blue Bell has stopped production and distribution of ice cream products from that line and has removed them from stores and any other retail outlets. This advisory does not include Blue Bell cups, pints or half gallons.
The affected products include Chocolate Chip Country Cookie, Great Divide Bar, Sour Pop Green Apple Bar, Cotton Candy Bar, Scoops, Vanilla Stick Slices, Almond Bar and No Sugar Added Mooo Bar (regular Mooo Bars are not included).
Consumers should not eat these items and should discard any of these products they may have in their freezers.
Symptoms of Listeriosis can include fever, muscle aches, diarrhea and vomiting. People with these symptoms should consult a physician. Symptoms typically occur three to 70 days after exposure. The disease affects primarily older people, pregnant women, newborns and people with weakened immune systems.
Listeriosis is required to be reported in Texas. No Texas cases have been reported in connection to any Blue Bell products. In 2014, Texas had 19 confirmed cases of Listeriosis. Texas has had two reported cases so far this year.
Blue Bell has been licensed in Texas as a frozen dessert manufacturer since 1981, when the state enacted the frozen dessert-licensing requirement. Health officials inspect these types of facilities monthly. No enforcement action has been taken against the facility, and it is operating in compliance with food safety laws.
Texas health officials continue to work closely with the FDA and with Blue Bell Creameries to gather additional information and ensure the items have been removed from stores.
The entire FDA advisory is available at http://www.fda.gov/Food/RecallsOutbreaksEmergencies/Outbreaks/ucm438104.htm.