BLUE BELL ICE CREAM RECALL AND LISTERIA AWARENESS
Texas-based Blue Bell Creameries issued a voluntary recall Monday night for all of its products on the market after two samples of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream tested positive for listeria, a potentially deadly bacteria.The company “cannot say with certainty” how the bacteria was introduced to its facilities, Blue Bell’s chief executive Paul Kruse said in a statement. Blue Bell issued the recall that includes ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet and frozen snacks distributed in 23 states and international locations because other products “have the potential to be contaminated,” according to the statement.
“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. The first recall in the family-owned creamery’s 108-year history was issued last month after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention linked ice cream contaminated with listeria to three deaths at a Kansas hospital. Five others in Kansas and Texas were sickened with listeriosis, which can cause fever, muscle aches, gastrointestinal symptoms.
The illness was tracked to a production line in Brenham, Texas, and later to a second line in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. The most recently contaminated samples were discovered through a testing program the company initiated after its first recall, according to the statement.
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.
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 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.
Listeria primarily affects pregnant women and their newborns, older adults and people with immune systems weakened by cancer, cancer treatments, or other serious conditions.
WHAT IS LISTERIA?
• Listeriosis is a life-threatening infection caused by eating food contaminated with the bacterium (germ) Listeria monocytogenes. People at high risk for listeriosis include pregnant women, adults 65 and older, and people with weakened immune systems.
What are the Symptoms of Listeriosis?
A person with listeriosis usually has fever and muscle aches, sometimes preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms. Almost everyone who is diagnosed with listeriosis has “invasive” infection, in which the bacteria spread beyond the gastrointestinal tract. The symptoms vary with the infected person:
•Pregnant women: Pregnant women typically experience fever and other non-specific symptoms, such as fatigue and aches. However, infections during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, or life-threatening infection of the newborn .
•People other than pregnant women: Symptoms can include headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions in addition to fever and muscle aches.
Listeriosis can present in different ways. In older adults and people with immunocompromising conditions, septicemia and meningitis are the most common clinical presentations . Pregnant women may experience a fever and other non-specific symptoms, such as fatigue and aches, followed by fetal loss or bacteremia and meningitis in their newborns . Immunocompetent people may experience acute febrile gastroenteritis or no symptoms.
How does someone get listeriosis?
People get listeriosis by eating food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes 1. Babies can be born with listeriosis if their mothers eat contaminated food during pregnancy. However, healthy people may consume contaminated foods without becoming ill. People at risk can prevent listeriosis by avoiding certain higher-risk foods and by handling and storing food properly.
Listeria monocytogenes is commonly found in soil and water. Animals can carry the bacterium without appearing ill and can contaminate foods of animal origin, such as meats and dairy products.
Most human infections follow consumption of contaminated food. Rare cases of hospital-acquired transmission have been reported in newborns.
When Listeria bacteria get into a food processing factory, they can live there for years, sometimes contaminating food products 4. The bacterium has been found in a variety of foods, such as:
• Uncooked meats and vegetables
• Unpasteurized (raw) milk and cheeses as well as other foods made from unpasteurized milk
• Cooked or processed foods, including certain soft cheeses, processed (or ready-to-eat) meats, and smoked seafood
Listeria are killed by cooking and pasteurization. However, in some ready-to-eat meats, such as hot dogs and deli meats, contamination may occur after factory cooking but before packaging or even at the deli counter. Also, be aware that Mexican-style cheeses (such as queso fresco) made from pasteurized milk and likely contaminated during cheese-making have caused Listeria infections.
Unlike most bacteria, Listeria can grow and multiply in some foods in the refrigerator.
General recommendations to prevent an infection with Listeria:
FDA recommendations for washing and handling food.
• Rinse raw produce, such as fruits and vegetables, thoroughly under running tap water before eating, cutting, or cooking. Even if the produce will be peeled, it should still be washed first.
• Scrub firm produce, such as melons and cucumbers, with a clean produce brush.
• Dry the produce with a clean cloth or paper towel.
• Separate uncooked meats and poultry from vegetables, cooked foods, and ready-to-eat foods.
Keep your kitchen and environment cleaner and safer.
• Wash hands, knives, countertops, and cutting boards after handling and preparing uncooked foods.
• Be aware that Listeria monocytogenes can grow in foods in the refrigerator. Use an appliance thermometer, such as a refrigerator thermometer, to check the temperature inside your refrigerator. The refrigerator should be 40°F or lower and the freezer 0°F or lower.
• Clean up all spills in your refrigerator right away–especially juices from hot dog and lunch meat packages, raw meat, and raw poultry.
• Clean the inside walls and shelves of your refrigerator with hot water and liquid soap, then rinse.
Cook meat and poultry thoroughly.
• Thoroughly cook raw food from animal sources, such as beef, pork, or poultry to a safe internal temperature. For a list of recommended temperatures for meat and poultry, visit the safe minimum cooking temperatures chart at FoodSafety.gov.
Store foods safely.
• Use precooked or ready-to-eat food as soon as you can. Do not store the product in the refrigerator beyond the use-by date; follow USDA refrigerator storage time guidelines:
o Hot Dogs – store opened package no longer than 1 week and unopened package no longer than 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
o Luncheon and Deli Meat – store factory-sealed, unopened package no longer than 2 weeks. Store opened packages and meat sliced at a local deli no longer than 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator.
• Divide leftovers into shallow containers to promote rapid, even cooling. Cover with airtight lids or enclose in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Use leftovers within 3 to 4 days.
Safety Alerts are a publication of the information from various sources to share with the community. The information contained in this newsletter has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, and the editors have exercised reasonable care to assure its accuracy. However, Ken does not guarantee that the contents of this publication are correct. We welcome topics of interest from our readers. Material may be rewritten to conform to newsletter space. Material should be addressed to the Ken Oswald, DK Services, 54 Saddle Clovis NM 88101
Information from CDC, USDA, FDA, NM Dept of Health, CNN and MSN news
Today’s post comes to us courtesy of Ken Oswald , CHSO, STS , EHS Supervisor , DFA-Portales NM