Ice cream maker Blue Bell reports listeria found again in facility

Blue Bell Listeria Contamination Dates Back to 2013

SAN ANTONIO, Texas, Jan 8 (Reuters) - Texas-based Blue Bell Creameries, which stopped production and distribution of ice cream to 25 states in April after the discovery of listeria bacteria, said on Friday that listeria was discovered again in a production facility.

The company did not specify in a statement in which of its three facilities listeria had been found but said that none was found in any of its ice cream. Blue Bell said it is moving to eliminate the bacteria through a "seek and destroy" process.

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"We expect to periodically find microbiological indications in our facilities," said Blue Bell, which declined comment beyond the statement. The company credited its "enhanced, robust testing system" for why it found the bacteria.

The company noted that because listeria is commonly found in the natural environment, "no manufacturer can ever assume it will be entirely eradicated."

Learn more about Blue Bell's first listeria outbreak:

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Ice cream maker Blue Bell reports listeria found again in facility
OVERLAND PARK, KS - APRIL 21: A Blue Bell Ice Cream truck is seen outside a Wal-Mart store after Blue Bell Creameries recalls all products following a Listeria contamination on April 21, 2015 in Overland Park, Kansas. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
OVERLAND PARK, KS - APRIL 21: Shelves are bare and signs are posted where Blue Bell products were displayed in a grocery store on April 21, 2015 in Overland Park, Kansas. Blue Bell Creameries recalled all products following a Listeria contamination. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
We have initiated a voluntary recall of all our ice creams, frozen yogurts, sorbets, and ice cream sandwiches. https://t.co/JUOXA4JT0e
Five people in Kansas have become ill, three have died, as part of a potential listeriosis outbreak, possibly connected to eating Blue Bell Creameries ice cream at a hospital, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
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Blue Bell, ranked the No. 1 ice cream brand in the country in 2014, recalled all products last spring after 10 reported cases of listeria in four states were linked to Blue Bell frozen treats. Three of the people sickened, all hospital patients in Kansas, later died.

The disease, caused by eating food contaminated with listeria, primarily affects older adults, pregnant women, newborns and adults with weakened immune systems, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Blue Bell suspended production at its plants in Brenham, Texas; Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, and Sylacauga, Alabama last spring and said it conducted a major overhaul of production at all three plants.

Blue Bell laid off or furloughed hundreds of employees as a result of the shutdown.

Starting in November, the company began a phased process of returning its ice cream to store shelves. The company said the next phase of the process, in which ice cream will be distributed in Tennessee, Kentucky, the Carolinas, and Virginia, will proceed as planned.

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