CDC Issues Final Report on Blue Bell Listeria Outbreak

Creamery vows to "reassess everything"

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday released its final report on the listeria contamination in Blue Bell ice cream, and the Texas-based creamery vowed to "reassess everything" to make sure its product is safe.

"The outbreak investigation is over," the CDC report concluded. "However, people could continue to get sick because recalled products may still be in people's freezers."

A total of 10 people became infected with listeria in Arizona, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas between January 2010 to January 2015, the CDC report said. Three in Kansas died, and all 10 were hospitalized.


Blue Bell voluntarily recalled all its products on April 20.

The Food and Drug Administration inspected Blue Bell factories in Texas, Oklahoma and Alabama and issued its reports last month.

New documents released by the FDA on Wednesday indicated Blue Bell may have found the source of listeria contamination at its Oklahoma plant -- ingredients that were stored in an unsanitary room.

But the source of bacteria at its other two plants remained a mystery.

The Centers for Disease Control on Wednesday released its final report on the listeria contamination in Blue Bell ice cream, and the Texas-based creamery vowed to “reassess everything” to make sure its product is safe.

As the CDC issued its final report, Blue Bell issued a written statement saying it has provided regulators with a detailed list of corrective actions which are now underway.

"This process has led Blue Bell to 'reassess everything' about its operations and identify a number of enhancements that will be made, including updated environmental and product testing procedures," the statement said.

Blue Bell did not give a timetable for when it would resume production and be available in stores.

More: CDC Final Report on Multistate Outbreak of Listeriosis Linked to Blue Bell Creameries

So can Blue Bell make a comeback after being gone from the marketplace for so long?

"Over the years they've been able to accumulate a lot of credibility and good will," said Professor Michael Braun of SMU's Cox School of Business. "I think the public wants Blue Bell to come back and because Blue Bell did not rush coming back, there should be some confidence the product is safe."

He stressed that the creamery must make sure its factories are clean before resuming production.

"I think the first thing they'll have to do is make sure something like this never happens again," Braun said. "The public can be very forgiving if there's one event. If it ever happens again, I think they'll have a lot more difficulty."

Summer won't be the same without Blue Bell ice cream, said Ellen Teran, of Dallas, whose favorite treat has been replaced on store shelves by competitors.

"We used to eat ice cream every single night. I don't know what we’re going to do," Teran said. "I've been in the aisles looking for ice cream before, and all the customers are standing around and saying nothing compares to Blue Bell."

Stores are eager to make room for Blue Bell once again, if and when the brand returns.

"We're confident that Blue Bell will again be a premium ice cream that the customer wants," said Gary Huddleston, with Kroger.

The Associated Press and NBC 5's Kevin Cokely contributed to this report.

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