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Total recall for Blue Bell

So far, 2015 has been a Rocky Road for Blue Bell, what with listeria contamination cropping up in several of its ice cream products, and ever-expanding recalls, from one line of products to another and even to a second facility in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. However, that road just got a whole lot rougher. In the latest twist in the Recall Saga, the venerable 108-year-old Texas-based company has now recalled all of its products from everywhere – off retailers’ shelves and out of consumer’s freezers, urging people to take every Blue Bell product they have in their kitchens back to the point of purchase for a full refund. According to executive Paul Kruse, the company isn’t sure how the listeria got into its facility, but it is now there and the recall is now a total recall…of everything: ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet and frozen snacks distributed in 23 states and international locations because these other products “have the potential to be contaminated.” “We're committed to doing the 100 percent right thing, and the best way to do that is to take all of our products off the market until we can be confident that they are all safe,” Kruse said. Listeria, a potentially deadly infection, should be taken seriously, and the family-owned creamery believes that removing everything from the market is the only way to be 100 percent sure of complete safety. Monday's recall extends to retail outlets in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wyoming and international locations. The manufacturing facility in Oklahoma where operations were suspended earlier this month for sanitizing will remain closed as Blue Bell continues to investigate the source of the bacteria, the statement said. The company said it is also expanding its cleaning and sanitization system, beefing up its employee training, expanding its swabbing system by 800 percent to include more surfaces and is sending daily samples to a microbiology laboratory for testing. Listeriosis is a rare but serious illness caused by eating food contaminated with Listeria moncytogenes, the bacteria found in samples of some of Blue Bell’s products. Listeriosis symptoms include fever and muscle aches, sometimes preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms. Anyone who develops chills and fever after eating ice cream should seek medical care. Elderly people, newborns and those with weakened immune systems are especially at risk. The illness can cause miscarriage, stillbirth and premature labor among pregnant women. Listeria can grow and multiply even at refrigeration temperatures, so emptying the freezer or refrigerator isn’t enough. The inside walls and shelves of refrigerators should be cleaned and sanitized with one tablespoon of chlorine bleach to one gallon of hot water. Cutting boards, countertops, dishes and utensils that may have come in contact with ice cream should be sanitized the same way. Continuing to wipe up refrigerator spills as they occur and cleaning out the fridge regularly will help curb the threat of food-borne illness, as will washing the hands with warm soapy water before handling any food items. Blue Bell is implementing a process to test all of its products before releasing them to the market, with plans to resume limited distribution soon. The FDA encourages consumers with questions about food safety to call 1-888-SAFEFOOD Monday through Friday between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Eastern time, or visit the website http://www.fda.gov(/defaulthtm). For more information about listeria specifically, go to http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/listeria/index.html or http://www.foodsafety.gov/poisoning/ca-uses/bacteriaviruses/listeria/index.html. For an update about the latest expanded recall, go to http://www.fda.gov/Food/RecallsOutbreaksEmergencies/Outbreaks/ucm438104.html.

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