WASHINGTON — Major recalls from two well-known ice cream companies due to the discovery of listeria bacteria raise questions about how the pathogen could have contaminated multiple ice cream manufacturing plants — and whether the discoveries are related.
Blue Bell Creameries of Texas and Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams of Ohio — extremely popular brands in their home states — took all their products off shelves this week. Blue Bell ice cream is linked to 10 illnesses in four states, including three deaths. There are no known illnesses linked to the Jeni’s recall, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The recalls are unusual: Listeria is rarely found in ice cream because it can’t grow at freezing temperatures. On Thursday, Blue Bell said it would close its facilities in Texas, Oklahoma and Alabama for intensive cleaning. The plants will be closed next week and possibly into the following week, a spokesman said. Blue Bell did produce some ice cream in its plants this week, but that product will be used for testing and data gathering and won't be sold to the public.