BROKEN ARROW, OKLA. — Blue Bell Creameries has suspended operations at its Broken Arrow, Okla., manufacturing plant after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention linked products manufactured at the plant to an outbreak of Listeria and later recommended consumers do not eat any products made at the plant. The Blue Bell announcement it is temporarily shutting down the plant comes two weeks after the company initiated a recall of products manufactured at its plant in Brenham, Texas, due to Listeria contamination.
“The Broken Arrow operations will be suspended so that our team of expert consultants can conduct a careful and complete examination to determine the exact cause of the contamination,” the company said. “We have notified the U.S. Food and Drug Administration of our action and we remain committed to being transparent with that federal agency. Once our investigation is complete and we have made all necessary improvements, it will return to operation. Our other plants continue to operate and supply our products to retail stores and institutional customers.”
Initially, Blue Bell had recalled several varieties of ice cream and frozen novelty products manufactured at its Brenham plant after a C.D.C. investigation linked a deadly outbreak of listeriosis at a hospital in Kansas to products manufactured at the plant and served at the hospital. The company said it had identified the machine at the Brenham plant that was the source of the contamination.
Blue Bell later expanded the recall to three varieties of 3-oz ice cream cups with pull tab lids that had been manufactured at the Broken Arrow plant after C.D.C. investigators isolated strains of Listeria monocytogenes at the Kansas hospital and linked them to the products manufactured in Broken Arrow.
“These isolates were indistinguishable from each other by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (P.F.G.E.),” the C.D.C. said. “The pattern is rare.”
In addition, the C.D.C. said it searched the PulseNet database and identified six patients with listeriosis between 2010 and 2014 who had Listeria isolates with P.F.G.E. patterns indistinguishable from those of Listeria isolated from Blue Bell brand 3-oz ice cream cups.“Investigation to determine whether these illnesses are related to exposure to Blue Bell products is ongoing,” the agency said.