Listeria Attorney Retained in Blue Bell Ice Cream Case

On April 20, 2015, Blue Bell Creameries issued an expanded recall of all of its products. If you were sickened by any of them, you can get legal help now.

A woman allegedly sickened by Blue Bell ice cream in Kansas has retained our law firm to represent her. She ate a product that was later recalled due to possible contamination with Listeria monocytogenes bacteria.

Although symptoms can be mild, this  is a particularly dangerous pathogen because of its ability to easily cause a severe infection of the brain called meningitis and to cause miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth. We are currently representing a mother and baby sickened in another outbreak caused by caramel apples contaminated with Listeria.

Our law firm’s Bad Bug Law Team® has helped many clients sickened in this way.

To date, there have been 8 reported cases of listeriosis, including 3 deaths. The CDC is dividing the illnesses into two groupings, based on state: Cluster 1 currently consists of 5 people from Kansas; and Cluster 2, 3 from Texas.

Kansas Outbreak – Cluster 1

The onset of illness in the 5 individuals who comprise Cluster 1 ranged from January 2014 to January 2015—yes, a year. All of these people ate Blue Bell Scoops while hospitalized at Via Christie Hospital in Wichita, Kansas, prior to symptoms, but health officials didn’t figure out the connection until March of 2015.

You can sue a hospital for food poisoning. Our lawyers look at the facts and determine if it is best to sue just the food processor, or both the hospital and the food processor.

On February 12, 2015, South Carolina health officials found the Kansas-outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes in samples of Chocolate Chip Country Cookie Sandwich and the Great Divide Bar ice cream products during routine testing. The products were manufactured at the company’s plant in Brenham, Texas plant. The Texas Department of State Health Services then began testing samples of products produced at the Brenham facility. A third product, manufactured on the same line, tested positive for the outbreak-strain, single-serving ice cream product called Scoops, the product used at Via Christie.

Based on these findings, on March 13, 2015 Blue Bell Creameries issued its first recall, consisting of these 10 ice cream products:

  • Chocolate Chip Country Cookie (5.25 FL OZ) – UPC 71899-21169;
  • Great Divide Bar (2.75 FL OZ) – UPC 71899-21178;
  • Sour Pop Green Apple Bar (2.5 FL OZ) – UPC 71899-21208;
  • Cotton Candy Bar (2.5 FL OZ) – UPC 71899-21207;
  • SCOOPS (4.0 FL OZ)- UPC 71899-00701;
  • Vanilla Stick Slices (4.0 FL OZ) – No UPC – SKU #964;
  • Almond Bar (2.75 FL OZ) – UPC 71899-21138;
  • 6 pk Cotton Candy Bars (6 – 2.5 FL OZ) – UPC 71899-62257;
  • 6 pk Sour Pop Green Apple Bars (6 – 2.5 FL OZ) – UPC 71899-62258; and
  • 12 pk NSA Mooo Bars (12 – 2.0 FL OZ) – UPC 71899-62305.

The affected products were collected from retailers and hospitals, and the company shut down the Brenham production line on which the products had been manufactured.

Texas Outbreak – Cluster 2

Cluster 2 is comprised of 3 people in Texas who contracted listeriosis between 2011 and 2014. The strain of the pathogen affecting these individuals was found to be highly related to a sample taken from a Blue Bell product manufactured at its Broken Arrow, Okla. facility.

As part of the Kansas outbreak investigation the Kansas Department of Health and Environment collected environmental samples from various other Blue Bell products. The bacteria was detected in a sample taken from a Blue Bell 3-ounce, single-serving chocolate ice cream cup manufactured in Blue Bell’s plant in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. This was similar but not identical to the strain of the bacteria that sickened the Via Christie patients. Three illnesses in Texas were connected to this ice cream via the CDC database, PulseNet.

Prompted by this new information, the company issued a second recall on March 23, 2015 of the following ice cream cup products:

  • Chocolate (3 fl. oz.) – SKU # 453
  • Strawberry (3 fl. oz.) – SKU #452
  • Vanilla (3 fl. oz.) – SKU #451

The company indicated that, although the products were distributed in several states, they were sold via food service accounts, and thus not available at retail outlets.

On April 3, 2015 the company declared it had suspended production at its Broken Arrow, Okla. facility.

Sampling of other products manufactured at the Broken Arrow, Okla. plant detected Listeria monocytogenes present in Banana Pudding Ice Cream Pints. On April 7, 2015 the company expanded the recall to include several other products manufactured on the same production line as the Banana Pudding ice cream. These recalled products were sold at both the food service level and the retail level.

On April 20, the company issued a recall of all of its products made at all of its plants, including ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet and frozen snacks. This was after the bacteria was found in Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream half gallons produced on March 17, 2015, and March 27, 2015.

Symptoms and Risk Factors

Listeria is one of the deadliest foodborne bacteria, proving fatal in about 1 in 5 cases. Its symptoms, flu-like in nature, include high fever, severe headache, muscle stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea. The gestation period, the time it takes to exhibit symptoms, ranges from a few days after consumption to several weeks.

Certain groups are more vulnerable, including the elderly, pregnant women, small children, and immuno-compromised.

“We cannot stress enough the importance of seeking competent medical care if you have any question whatsoever about your symptoms.  This is the deadliest of all the foodborne pathogens.”

Should you suspect you have had contact with a contaminated product it is imperative that you seek medical attention immediately, especially if you fall under the classification for high-risk. For a free consultation contact us.

Listeria monocytogenes
CDC image of Listeria monocytogenes bacteria


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Category: Food Poisoning
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