Blue Bell Pinky Swears, Promises Its Ice Cream Is Totally Safe To Eat Now

Blue Bell Creameries is working hard to reassure customers after last year’s outbreak of Listeria contamination and a slew of massive recalls, issuing yet another message promising that its products are now safe to eat.

The company announced on Friday that it was within the realm of possibility that listeria might be present still at its Brenham, TX plant — one of three facilities total — while saying that there was no reason for customers to worry about contamination. It seems it’s trying to hammer that message home hard, issuing another statement on Monday (via the Associated Press) saying customers “can be confident in our ice cream because of all the steps we have taken to ensure a safe product. Our enhanced testing program confirms that these procedures are working.”

Part of the new process the company is implementing to stay contamination-free involves enhanced testing that flags suspicious areas early on, “so we can take steps to extensively clean and sanitize the areas, refine our procedures or make additional physical enhancements in our facilities.”

A spokeswoman for the Texas Department of State Health Services said Blue Bell told her agency that it found “a couple of instances of environmental positives for Listeria species at the Brenham plant over the last month” in non-food areas such as floors and floor drains “and the instances were addressed,” which is pretty much what the company said last week: yes, there could possibly be listeria hanging around here, but no, it’s not going to get into the food.

Part of the fallout from last year’s recall and the subsequent cleanup effort means Blue Bell agreed to inform health officials in the states where it has factories — Texas, Alabama, and Oklahoma — when there’s a positive test result for listeria in its products or ingredients. The agreements don’t mean that Blue Bell has to notify the states of any positive listeria test results if it was found on floors or other areas that don’t have contact with food.

Listeria happens to be a foodborne pathogen that can survive being frozen, which is why its presence in ice cream is a particular threat. The Blue Bell outbreak killed three people and sent twelve to the hospital. In healthy people, infection with listeriosis causes fever and muscle aches, along with diarrhea and abdominal pain. Infection can be life-threatening to people who are elderly, young, or who have compromised immune systems.

During last year’s outbreak, 12 people became sick and three died. Blue Bell recalled eight million gallons of ice cream as a result. The company is now in the process of expanding its distribution again, adding El Paso, TX; Little Rock, AR; and Memphis, TN to the list of areas that will be getting Blue Bell products again.

Blue Bell says ice cream is safe despite potential concern [Associated Press]

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