Blue Bell expands recall to all products due to possible bacteria contamination

BRENHAM, Texas - Blue Bell Creameries issued a voluntary recall on Monday night for all of its products over the risk of bacteria contamination.

The decision came after weeks of gradual recall by the Texas-based company.

"Today's decision was the result of findings from an enhanced sampling program initiated by Blue Bell which revealed that Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream half gallons produced on March 17, 2015, and March 27, 2015, contained the bacteria," the company said in a statement, referring to the bacteria Listeria Monocytogenes.

"This means Blue Bell has now had several positive tests for Listeria in different places and plants."

So far, the company has documented five cases of Listeria in Kansas and three cases in Texas, CNN reported.

"We're committed to doing the 100 per cent 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," Blue Bell CEO and president Paul Kruse said in a statement.

"We are heartbroken about this situation and apologise to all of our loyal Blue Bell fans and customers."

Blue Bell has implemented a procedure called "test and hold" for all products made at all manufacturing facilities, Reuters reported. It expects to resume distribution soon on a limited basis once it is confident about the safety of its products.

Listeria monocytogenes can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people and others with weakened immune systems, CNN said, citing the US Food and Drug Administration.

In the United States, an estimated 1,600 people become seriously ill with Listeria each year and about 16 per cent of these cases result in death.

Some patients suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, nausea and abdominal pain. But pregnant women may suffer miscarriages and stillbirths.

In March, Blue Bell recalled 3-ounce cups of chocolate, vanilla and strawberry ice cream after a test found Listeria in one of the cups from Kansas hospital. Earlier this month, the recall expanded to pints and half gallon sizes of ice cream.