Blue Bell Ice Cream announced Wednesday that it is recalling two ice cream flavors over concerns they could be contaminated with listeria monocytogenes. The recall is the first the Brenham, Texas, ice cream manufacturer has launched since a listeria outbreak in April 2015 linked to its facilities and products nearly destroyed the company.
The Blue Bell products recalled Wednesday are Blue Bell Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough half-gallon and pint sizes and half-gallon containers of Blue Bell Cookie Two Step. Both products contain cookie dough that could be contaminated with listeria.
Although the new recall comes as Blue Bell continues to recover from its previous listeria crisis, the “good” news is that the potential contamination comes from an external source.
Aspen Hills Inc. of Garner, Iowa, supplied the cookie dough to Blue Bell, so there is no indication that any of the ice cream manufacturer’s three production facilities are to blame. The company resumed making ice cream at its Alabama plant in August 2015 after temporarily shuttering all of its factories to update and sanitize them. The company subsequently resumed operations in its Texas and Oklahoma locations and started reclaiming its place in the market last September.
According to Blue Bell and Aspen Hills, there have been no reports of illnesses from eating the ice cream, which was distributed to stores in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.
Blue Bell said that it is recalling the products out of “an abundance of caution.” The company indicated in its announcement that the food-safety improvements and procedures it adopted after last year’s debacle caught the problem.
About this latest recall, Blue Bell said it “identified a potential problem through intensified internal testing and notified Aspen Hills. Aspen Hills then issued a voluntary recall of the products supplied to Blue Bell.”
Also, the Food Safety Modernization Act, signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2011, introduced tougher safety rules for food manufacturers. Before the new law was enacted, food manufacturers weren’t required to take any corrective action when listeria and other germs were found in its facilities.
Now, however, companies that don’t take required measures to correct and prevent food contamination problems will be held accountable by federal regulators.
Blue Bell advises customers to return any of the recalled products they bought to the retailer where they were purchased. For additional information, customers can call 979-836-7977, Monday through Friday, from 8 am to 5 pm CST.