Walmart Joins List Of Retailers Removing All Blue Bell Ice Cream Products From Shelves

Yesterday, we reported that three major retailers removed Blue Bell Creameries products from shelves out of an abundance of caution following a link between the products and an outbreak of listeriosis. Now, the largest retailer in the country – Walmart – is following suit.

The Killeen Daily Herald reports that Walmart has joined the growing list of retailers such as H-E-B, Kroger and Sam’s Club pulling the ice cream products from shelves following recalls of several Blue Bell items.

A spokesperson for Walmart confirmed that the products had been removed, but says the company is working with Blue Bell to restock supplies. However, there is no timeline for when that might occur.

Walmart owns Sam’s Club, so it would make sense the larger retailer would eventually remove the products.

Grocers, now also including Albertsons and Tom Thumb, began pulling the ice cream products over the weekend after Blue Bell announced it would close a Broken Arrow, OK, plant linked to the outbreak of listeriosis.

A spokesperson for Blue Bell says the company understands that retailers chose to remove products out of an abundance of caution to protect consumers, but that many of the products being withheld haven’t been linked to the Oklahoma plant.

In addition to stores voluntarily pulling all or some of their Blue Bell ice cream products, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a recommendation that consumers not eat any products produced at the temporarily closed plant.

Products made at the facility can be identified by a code at the bottom of the container. If the letters “O,” “P,” “Q,” “R,” “S,” or “T” appear as the final character in the date code, then it would have been produced in the Oklahoma plant.

Consumers should check the bottom of their ice cream containers for a code that would link their product to a specific Blue Bell Plant. [CDC]

Consumers should check the bottom of their ice cream containers for a code that would link their product to a specific Blue Bell Plant. [CDC]

For example, if a Blue Bell product is labeled “021217S,” it was produced at the Oklahoma facility because the letter “S” follows the “code date.”

“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,” the CDC says. “Institutions and retailers should also carefully check their freezers or inventory for any of these products. These products can have a shelf life of up to 2 years.”

Blue Bell previously recalled several ice cream items in mid-March after tests linked the products to an outbreak of listeriosis that sickened five people in Kansas, three of whom later died.

A joint investigation found that certain Blue Bell brand ice cream products are the likely source of some or all of the people’s illnesses.

The five people who became ill in Kansas were confirmed to be infected with one of four strains of Listeria monocytogenes. All five people – older in age – were hospitalized at the same hospital for unrelated problems before developing invasive listeriosis, suggesting they were infected at the hospital, the CDC reports.

Investigators say the illnesses began between January 2014 and January 2015. Although some of the illnesses began more than a year ago, the listeria cluster identified earlier this month shows that some of the infections are indistinguishable, meaning they are likely from the same source.

Of the patients infected, four consumed milkshakes made with a single serving Blue Bell brand ice cream called Scoops while they were in the hospital.

Recalled products included three-ounce chocolate, strawberry and vanilla ice cream cups with tab lids served in institutional and food service areas, such as hospitals. The original recall also included widely sold products such as Scoops, Chocolate Chip Country Cookies, Great Divide Bars, Sour Pop Green Apple Bars, Cotton Candy Bars, Vanilla Stick Slices, Almond Bars and No Sugar Added Moo Bars.

Wal-Mart stores, commissaries follow H-E-B, pull Blue Bell from shelves [Killeen Daily Herald]