Blue Bell Ice Cream has suspended operations at an Oklahoma production facility that officials had previously connected to a deadly foodborne illness. "We are taking this step out of an abundance of caution," the company said in a statement. Last month, the company and health officials said a 3-ounce cup of ice cream contaminated with listeriosis was traced to a plant in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. The now-recalled ice cream product—cups of chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla—is not sold in retail locations and is shipped in bulk to "institutional accounts" such as hospitals in 23 states that comprise less than 5% of the company's sales.
"We recommend that consumers do not eat any Blue Bell brand products made at the company's Oklahoma facility and that retailers and institutions do not sell or serve them," the CDC said yesterday. Ten products recalled earlier in March were from a production line at a plant in Brenham, Texas, the company's headquarters. The recall, the first in the company's 108-year history, began when five patients at Via Christi St. Francis hospital in Wichita, Kansas, became ill with listeriosis while hospitalized at some point from December 2013 to January 2015. Officials determined at least four drank milkshakes that contained Blue Bell ice cream. Three of the patients later died.